LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Clint Dempsey (R) of Fulham tackes a shot on goal during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 5th Round match between Fulham and Bolton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on February 20 2011 in London England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
At long, long last, Fulham have given academy graduate and England Under-18 starlet Matthew Briggs a new contract that will see him at Craven Cottage until the Summer of 2014.
Briggs, the youngest ever Premier League player in history, was given his first start under Hughes in August, where he played astutely in his favoured left back role. Such was his impression on Sparky, that Briggs then started against local rivals and Premier League champions, Chelsea.
As you would expect, given the opportunity to play for such an illustrious club, Briggs was delighted and expressed such thoughts in an interview with the official Fulham site, at www.fulhamfc.com:
"I’m really pleased. I’ve been at Fulham since I was ten years old. I was offered the contract last week and we've been doing a medical. It was a case of getting that sorted and then signing on the dotted line."
Briggs, still only 19, then reflected on his record feat, when he played against Middlesbrough at the age of only 16 years and 65 days:
"I vaguely remember my debut against Middlesbrough to be honest. I remember being told to warm up and getting butterflies in my stomach – I just couldn’t wait to get on.
“I thought I was going to be in the squad a bit more the following season after making my debut against Middlesbrough, but it wasn’t to be. It’s been a bit frustrating with different managers, having to prove myself again and again.
“Since Mark Hughes has arrived I’ve pushed my foot through the door a little bit. If Mark Hughes likes you as a player and you’re performing well in training then he will play you and starting against Chelsea was a great experience for me. Playing against the likes of Kalou and Drogba was a great test for me.”
Great testament to a youth system not necessarily known for the exquisite talent it can produce.