Keeper Eve earns deal with Premier side Stoke
Stoke City goalkeeper Dale Eve has put pen to paper on his first professional deal that will keep him at the club until 2014.
Eve, 17, was the only first year scholar handed pro terms following his eye-catching displays between the sticks for Stokes Under-18s last season.
Having only signed Academy terms 12 months ago, Eve said he was surprised to turn professional so soon, but is determined to repay the faith shown in him by the English Premier League club.
Because I did so good for the Under-18s they have given me a two-year pro deal, said the six foot four shot stopper. It puts more pressure on me but it gives me the belief to continue to improve.
I was very surprised because no first year (scholars) get pro contracts, especially goalkeepers who take longer to come into the game.
Nothing changes really though, the biggest change is the amount of money I get, everything else is the same.
Eve started the season in the Under-16s but benefitted from some injury misfortune when first choice Under-18 keeper Daniel Bachmann hurt his back, ruling him out for five months.
After overcoming a few initial nerves, Eve grabbed his opportunity with both hands and believes the extra pressure of the higher level brought out the best in him.
I began the season in the Under-16s but unfortunately the Under-18s keeper had a back injury and missed half the season so I had to play Under-18s, he said.
The coaches said they got to see the real me because when I was played in the Under-16s I was taking it as theyre younger than me.
But in the Under-18s I showed my full potential and they got the best out of me. The first three or four games were a bit nerve-racking but after that it was fine.
When Eve first joined Stoke he wasnt much of a talker on the pitch but believes his communication skills have improved to the point his defenders cant keep him quiet.
Ive come a long way especially from when I left Bermuda, said the Dandy Town product. I was a bit raw and I was going out there on basic talent as I hadnt had no coaching.
At the beginning of the season I never used to talk but now they cant get me to shut up Ive had to learn a lot.
Eve returned home earlier this month and has been keeping fit by training with Gary Darrells Bermuda Under-20 team, who head to Puerto Rico in July for World Cup qualifiers.
Its unlikely Eve will be included in Darrells squad as the tournament clashes with Stokes pre-season, although he hasnt ruled out playing for the senior national team in this summers Digicel Cup.
I dont think I will be available for the Under-20s as (the qualifiers) go straight through pre-season, said Eve, who was recruited after impressing Stoke scouts while turning out for a Derby County youth team.
I have to look at the career side of things and do whats best (for me). The senior side have asked me to be involved (for the Digicel Cup) but well have to see how the seasons going.
Eve became one of Bermudas youngest ever internationals when he came on as a substitute in Bermudas 2-1 win over Barbados at the National Sports Centre in November.
And he expects to have a challenge on his hands for the number one spot in the near future, with both Freddy Hall, recently of Northampton Town, and Bermuda Hogges Tahj Bell also vying for the jersey.
I cant point my finger on why Bermuda has so many good keepers right now, he said. Id just say good luck to all of them and it can only help having good competition.