City Academy chief Ricky Martin could not conceal his delight on Tuesday night as a bone fide Norwich Academy product put pen-to-paper on a three-year professional deal.
For having just witnessed the club's shareholders try to take boss Glenn Roeder to task for the flood of loan players that have washed through the Canary system of late – and all, they would claim, at the expense of boys with real yellow and green blood in their veins – so news of Tom Adeyemi's signature should have gone down a storm.
Particularly when Roeder himself suggested that the Norwich School pupil could yet be breaking into the City midfield within the next 12 to 18 months. The fact that all concerned were swift to highlight the lad's “athletic” abilities merely reinforced the hope that the one-time nine-year-old Academy starlet was, indeed, the real deal.
No pressure, Tom…
“I'm absoluetly delighted,” said Martin, speaking after Tuesday night's angst-ridden AGM.
Each and every box Academy and Football In The Community-wise, the 17-year-old ticks.
“Tom is an ideal product of the Academy,” he added. “He joined us at nine and came through after attending FITC [Football In The Community] school activities pre the Academy age group and the got scouted in local football.
“He joined us at Under-Nine and has played in every age group throughout the Academy through to a first-year scholar. He's only just turned 17 – just last week – so within ten days of him turning 17 he's put pen to paper on a three-year contract, so he is what would say was an ideal product coming all the way through the scheme.”
He is not alone in that regard – the Canaries also have their two teenage goalkeepers, Declan Rudd and Jed Steer, to boast about.
But therein lies a problem. For as they discovered with another home-grown keeping talent in the shape of Peterborough's much-admired England Under-21 stopper Joe Lewis, finding a place for one keeper in amidst a clutch of older heads and hands is very, very difficult.
Unless Lewis is happy to sit in David Marshall's shadow for another season – or unless you are sufficiently convinced of the young man's abilities that you oust City's senior No1 from the side – there is every likelihood that one of Rudd or Steer, or indeed, both will move on to pastures new with barely a game to their name.
The trick then is to cover yourself with a hefty great sell-on clause – one that could yet ride to Norwich's financial rescue this January as Queen's Park Rangers in particular continued to be linked with Lewis' signature.
Which is why Adeyemi's signature may prove so different; he can force his way into the first team sooner than any other teenage No1. Certainly Martin appeared convinced that this was a young man with all the qualities needed to flourish in the modern game.
“He's a very clever midfield player,” said Martin – literally, given Roeder's suggestion that, but for football beckoning, the Norwich School pupil would have been destined for either Oxford or Cambridge University.
“He's very athletic – and he's got more development to come. And as the manager stated there [at the AGM] he will probably need some time to develop on the physical side,” added Martin.
“But his performance levels throughout his school-boy age groups has been of a very, very high level.”
And all too often at the age group above where Mother Nature intended; Adeyemi has always been ahead of his time.
“One of my first decisions as an assistant Academy manager when I first joined the club was to move Tom up an age group so he actually missed his own football development with his own age group; with his own team-mates because I felt he needed to be tested a move up – playing at a higher level.”
All of which the youngster took in his stride.
“He was able to step up – and he's got a very good technical and tactical knowledge and that enabled him to develop.”
The $64 million question – and one that was raised pointedly by a shareholder from the Upper Tier of the Barclay – is whether or not the young man is an athlete. All too often, Norwich produce little, quick ones – with the emphasis on little. Size matters.
On that point, Martin was only too pleased to reassure shareholders and supporters alike that the teenager once again ticked the required boxes.
“He's very athletic,” Martin stressed. “And he's got all the makings of being able to sustain the physical demands of the senior game. But, like I just said, he will need a little bit of patience to maybe fulfill his full potential.
“And that's why the manager said that, hopefully, within the next 12 months you will see him running out on the field.”