Exciting young footballer Ollie Burke has set his sights on the Premier League after signing a new long-term contract with Nottingham Forest.
The 18-year-old, from Melton, was rewarded for an impressive breakthrough season at the City Ground with an improved four-and-a-half-year deal, completed last Wednesday.
It came just seven months after the Scotland under 19s international signed a three-year contract with Forest amid rumours of interest from other clubs in the winger.
He said: “With that amount of years it was a big decision to make, but it all went to plan and I’m delighted.
“There were rumours of other clubs, but it’s just talk really.
“I’m really happy to have this security, but I don’t stop now. I have to keep pushing myself.
“I want to get into the Premier League and be the best person I can be.”
Burke’s first taste of competitive football came with Mowbray Rangers, but Forest are a big part of his DNA, having joined the club as an eight-year-old.
Progressing through the age group ranks, and then academy, his dream of a professional contract offer came in September 2014.
It was a sign of the faith Forest had in him with three-quarters of his second scholarship year still to run.
“It’s a great club and I’m so pleased with how things have gone,” Burke added.
“I have worked all of my life for this and there’s no better place for me.
“To be playing first-team football in the Championship at this age is a big achievement, but I have to keep going and see where it gets me.”
With Forest in the midst of successive transfer embargoes, for breaches of Football League financial fair play rules, manager Dougie Freedman has been happy to give the club’s successful youth squad a chance.
Burke said: “There are a lot of youngsters coming through like Tyler Walker and George Grant.
“I have played with Tyler since I have been at the club and it’s a really big achievement for us both to be on the pitch playing for the first team. It’s really surreal.
“There is a lot of fighting for places in the team. Everyone goes into training thinking they have something to fight for because positions don’t come to you now.”
Having made his first league start of the season in August against Charlton, he had to wait another four months before his next, despite scoring his first international goal for Scotland under 19s in October.
But he made the most of his return, scoring his first senior goal in the 1-1 draw at Cardiff on only his second league start.
Burke has featured regularly since, chalking up 13 appearances, two goals, and an assist.
“The season started a bit slowly for me and things weren’t going to plan,” he added.
“I have got very high expectations of myself and was expecting to play in the first team.
“I remember my first start against Charlton. I wasn’t expecting it and I was quite nervous; I couldn’t get used to it at first.
“There is nothing worse than when you don’t show your potential in front of all those fans.
“But I kept fit playing for the under 21s, waited for my chance and luckily I grabbed it with both hands when it came along.
“My highlight so far was the FA Cup game against QPR when I was allowed to express myself and played really well.
“Sometimes I have to remember I’m only 18 and suck it all in - I want everything to come so fast!
“I still get a few butterflies, but the more games I play the more confidence I will get.”
While young footballers often receive a harsh press, accused of receiving too much, too soon, Burke insists a long-term deal still two months shy of his 19th birthday will not affect his appetite to improve.
A quick glance back to his roots is a useful reminder of that.
“I’m still very hungry,” he said. “I have played football all of my life and I feel I owe a lot to my family and my friends.
“For me, it’s got to be a family thing or it doesn’t quite work. My mum was there when I signed my deal.
“There are a lot of things to learn and a lot of hard work ahead. There will be ups and downs and I have to be ready for them.”