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England youth goalie Ryan Huddart from Broadstairs signs for Arsenal FC and youth development officer Liam Brady

By Mary Louis

Young Broadstairs soccer star Ryan Huddart made another step towards his goal when he signed for his beloved Arsenal on his 17th birthday.

The former Charles Dickens School pupil and England Under-17 squad goalie signed professional terms for the club, watched by Arsenal legend and head of youth development Liam Brady.

It was a significant advance towards a future in top flight soccer for Ryan who left his Broadstairs school in July 2012, aged 15, for the Gunners Academy.

He is going great guns, having moved from schoolboy soccer to Charlton Athletic to Arsenal and his first pro contract. This will keep him at the club until he is 19. In the recent Arsenal programme for the Champions League match against Napoli, Ryan is featured in a two-page special in which he says he “hasn’t looked back” since joining the Shenley academy.

Ryan writes: “This has given me a massive boost especially as I got the chance to train with one of my all-time idols, Jens Lehmann. Jens is the goalkeeper that I most looked up to. He had a real presence, made the right decisions and had his own style of ‘keeping’. I had the honour of working twice a week with him last season and that really helped me.”

Ryan, who has already appeared for Arsenal Under-21s this season, said: “I am working hard to keep progressing and, having had a taste of playing at that level, I want more.”

Charles Dickens head teacher Andrew Olsson said: “The school is following Ryan’s excellent progress closely – he certainly is working hard and learning well. He may be another young England keeper in the mould of Joe Hart.”

School sports master Gary McClennan oversaw Ryan’s move to the academy and said they were all extremely proud of him.

It is the latest leg in the long journey from schoolboy football with local side Trinity and The Charles Dickens teams to the Premiership.

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