Zimbabwean starlet Leon Chiwome has penned his first professional contract with Wolves, capping off an impressive opening seven months since arriving at the club.
The 17-year-old teenage striker was born in Brighton, England to a Zimbabwean father and a British mother and eventually made a move to AFC Wimbledon, where he only lasted a year before Wolves swooped in.
Chiwome scored in his first two fixtures for Wolves’ under-18 side and has thrived in his new environment, where he appears to have the perfect pathway to become the next star to grace the Molineux turf.
He has already represented the under-18s and under-21s in Wolves’ colours while also pulling on the Three Lions at England under-17 level.
On Saturday January 14, just four days after his 17th birthday, Chiwome scored a hat-trick in just 48 minutes for England under-17s in their 6-0 win over Germany.
Wolves’ academy manager for football, Jon Hunter-Barrett, has been delighted with the impact Chiwome has made, coupled with his attpotentials application each day up to this point.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Leon at a great football club,” Hunter-Barrett said.
“He’s a keen worker, great shape and size, knows where the back of the net is and really athletic.
“He’s progressed very well in such a short period of time having already represented the under-18s, under-21s and also England at youth level. He’s definitely got a lot of potential and it’s great that everyone internally and externally can see that.
“I want to give credit to our recruitment team who have done an unbelievable job in identifying Leon as a player with potential to come into the programme. Seeing how quickly and how well he’s progressed since coming here is testament to himself, but also to them.
“As much as we see a bright future for him, it’s important we take things step-by-step. Part of his plan is going to be under-18s and under-21s, as well as getting himself back into the England set-up.”
Harry Hooman, Wolves’ head of UK academy recruitment, has provided an insight into the process behind securing the services of Chiwome.
“Credit to the scouts and recruitment team as a whole who saw that potential in Leon,” Hooman said. “We felt he had all the attributes that we look for in a number nine and he can do a bit of everything, but was far from the finished article.
“He’s come in and progressed quicker than we actually envisaged. He’s got that real desire to improve which has helped and has been like a sponge since he’s come in.
“He had all those attributes but then it’s down to the coaches and the support staff who have helped him, alongside his own attitude and desire to improve.”
Hooman has explained how Chiwome’s route into football meant that Wolves had to act quick if they were to get their man, keeping a close eye on the attacker for a period of months last year before deciding to secure his services after recognising the potential.
“It was a real intense period of scouting him because he was quite late into the system. He was identified by some of the scouts and we then watched him every week over a period of a couple of months before making a decision.
“He’s the profile of the number nine we wanted to bring into the club and they’re not easy to come by. We feel he can do a little bit of everything – he’s got athleticism and pace to run in behind, he scores goals, can lead the line and is also good with his back to goal to bring others into play. His physical attributes really stood out when we watched him as well.
“I like to think that we saw the potential in him but there was no rush for it to happen, so credit to him – he’s taken the opportunity and has just got to keep working hard now. It’s been good to see him go and score goals for England and get that recognition. Us as scouts have been out to watch him in those games and I went out for his England game recently. It’s a great story coming from a category three club to then be wearing the number nine for England.”