Published: 14:00, 13 January 2016
Shilow Tracey is starting life as a Premier League player after completing his dream move from Ebbsfleet to Tottenham Hotspur for an undisclosed fee.
Tracey has signed for Spurs in one of the biggest transfers Kent non-league football has seen in recent years.
The 17-year-old played just four minutes of senior football for the Fleet – in the Kent Senior Cup – but the north London club liked what they saw during two trial spells.
Ebbsfleet vice-chairman Peter Varney said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Shilow and we are proud of the fact that our youth academy is producing quality young players just one year after we set it up.
"I would like to thank Spurs for the professional manner in which they have handled the transfer negotiations. I must also recognise the work done with Shilow by (manager) Daryl McMahon and his staff in our youth academy."
Tracey will now be hoping to follow in the footsteps of young Spurs stars Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Tom Carroll, who have all been given their chance in the first team by Mauricio Pochettino.
McMahon said: "It’s amazing to think that he’s been nowhere, been here for 18 months and now he’s at the club who are fourth in the Premier League.
"It’s incredible but it’s a great opportunity and he’s young.
"I’m sure that people, now he’s in the national papers, will expect him to be the next Jamie Vardy but you’ve got to give him time. Shilow’s still learning his trade.
"He’s got the potential to play Premier League football. He’s a long way away from that, without a doubt, because he hasn’t even played National League South football – and that’s down to the circumstances here.
"If he was playing for another National South club, he’d play every week but here he’s got Danny Haynes, Anthony Cook, Jordan Parkes and JP Kissock in front of him."
McMahon worked in the Spurs academy before taking charge at Ebbsfleet and he’s confident Tracey will be treated right.
He said: "Tottenham’s a great club. They’ve got great coaches there and a brilliant philosophy. They bring players through, they believe in nurturing talent and don’t make robots.
"If you look at the young players they’ve got there, they’re exciting players, not the sort of bog-standard, safe players that you see at a lot of other clubs.
"I’m sure Shilow will flourish in that environment because it suits what he’s about."
Tottenham's head of player development, John McDermott, said: "We’re always on the lookout for talent and it’s healthy that we bring in new players to keep the pot boiling.
"Shilow has signed through a connection with Ebbsfleet’s manager Daryl McMahon, who has previously worked for us as a youth coach and we thank him and Ebbsfleet for their endeavours.
"He’ll now come in and become one of 25 under-18 players – and one of 40 players in the whole 17 to 21 age group – who has got to fight every day to try to improve.
"He joins a talented pool of players who have all got to earn their place in the side whenever we have an academy game. There are no rites of passage here so it’s up to every boy to strive to be the best he can be every single day."
McMahon admitted there was some sadness in never seeing Tracey play a league game for Ebbsfleet.
He said: "I would like to put the young players in. I don’t believe in just going out and getting 10 or 12 players.
"It’s about what you do with a player. It’s about you getting the best out of them and helping them develop.
"I would like to have my young players as a conveyor belt coming through to the first team."