Thirroul junior Reagan Ogle has signed a two year professional contract with English League Two club Accrington Stanley after making his first team debut in the last home game of the season.
Reagan, who played his junior football for Thirroul JFC alongside a number of players in the Thunder's Youth Grade team, joined Accrington Stanley's youth academy on a scholarship after moving to England with his family to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time footballer.
His proud parents, Cathryn and Phil, said the contract was a reward for the hard work Reagan has put in so far.
"Phil and I are very proud," Cathryn said. "This was his dream and he has worked tremendously hard to get there.
"He is a very proud Aussie and also of his football roots being [with] Thirroul JFC. He was a junior at Thirroul for a few years before we left to live in England."
Reagan, who began playing for Thirroul JFC in 2004 as a five-year-old, detailed his journey in an in interview on the AccringtonStanley.co.uk website.
“I had a friend who came over here and I’d been to school with his daughter and he suggested I came over to see how I’d do," Reagan said.
"We didn’t really think anything would come of it but it was good to see how I compared to English kids and English football.
"When Accrington gave me the chance more or less straight away I wanted to give it a go. I thought if it didn’t work I’d go home a better player than I was. Getting a scholarship was great but once that had happened I wanted to be a pro.”
The 18-year-old fullback was offered a two year contract and will join the first team ranks at Wham Stadium after making his League Two debut as a late sub in the last home game of the season against Luton Town.
Reagan, who had a successful loan spell with non-league Ramsbottom United, also featured in Stanley's Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Wolves last November and has been on the bench for the Reds in several other matches.
He said he could see a path to the club's senior setup from being involved with the under 18’s and now aims to establish himself in the first team.
“Having been at the club for a few years as I have when you get into the youth team you think that it could happen in terms of going pro and if you have a good season or two it becomes more realistic because you’re training with the first team and you know that’s what you want to do,” he said.
“As soon as you get that feeling you want that contract and once you get it it’s a great feeling.
“In the first year of the youth team I wasn’t really thinking about a contract, more about having a good season then in the second year I started playing quite well, went out on loan and that helped and when I came back there were clubs looking at me and I felt like I had a shot.
“When you get on the first team bench for the first time it’s something else. It’s completely different.”
Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman announced the promotion of Reagan to the first squad, along with another 18-year-old Zehn Mohammed.
“We are delighted that Reagan and Zehn have signed,” Coleman said. “They have huge potential and we are looking forward to working with them.
Both players have come through the youth ranks with the club and it’s a big boost to under 18s lead coach Andy Gray.
“We’re chuffed for them,” Gray said. “This is a great opportunity for them to progress. John and Jimmy have seen them in training and watched them. It’s great that Reagan has already made his debut, it’s a pat on the back for the the academy staff and it shows there’s a progression path from the academy to the first team at Accrington Stanley.”