Sunderland's Bali Mumba reacts after signing first professional contract at the Stadium of Light
Bali Mumba is living the dream after signing his first professional deal with Sunderland.
The midfielder, 17, has signed a contract until the summer of 2021, after making three appearances for the senior side this campaign.
Mumba, who joined the club aged eight, made his senior debut on the final day of last season against Wolves, and played regularly during pre-season.
He also started the Black Cats' opening League One fixture against Charlton back in August.
Speaking about the deal, Mumba told the club's website: “I am delighted to sign this because it has been a long wait.
“It is what I have been dreaming about since I was a kid. All the hard work is beginning to pay off and my family and I are all buzzing about it.
“It is a proud day for us all – I am just delighted to be able to stay at this club.
“My family have done so much for me over the years. They have helped me get here on a daily basis and for them I am truly grateful.
“To share it with them is amazing because they deserve this bit. They have done so much to help me get to where I am now and I am just so thankful to have them by my side.
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Mumba also made his debut for England Under-18s earlier this year, and has continued to impress for Sunderland's under-23 side this term.
“It has been an amazing few months for me at this club," added Mumba.
"I can still remember my first day, how it was like and where I am now.
“I am truly grateful and thankful for everything everyone has done to help me get to where I am now, but this is where the hard work starts again.”
Sunderland manager Jack Ross has been keeping a close eye on the club's youngsters since his arrival on Wearside in the summer.
Ross has handed senior debuts to academy graduates Benji Kimpioka and Jack Diamond this campaign, and believes it's important for the club to keep their young prospects.
“We are delighted to be able to retain our best young players and our most promising players," said Ross.
"I think for the club as a whole it is a really good reflection on the academy.
“They have brought him through and now he wants to stay. He is undoubtedly someone who will attract attention throughout the country because of his ability but hopefully it is a real statement of our intent about how we want to move the club forward.”