John Freeman has signed his first professional contract with MK Dons.
Freeman, who has been with the Club since the age of 10, signed an extended scholarship deal this summer but has now put pen-to-paper on fresh terms to continue his development at Stadium MK.
He becomes the ninth professional Academy graduate in Russell Martin’s first-team squad.
Freeman joined the Club as a 9-year-old and progressed through the Academy set-up before becoming a scholar in 2018.
"I'm over the moon, it’s been my dream since I was eight since I first joined this club - I'm so excited to see what the future holds," Freeman told mkdons.com.
"It means so much because of the memories I have as a kid. My Dad and I used to drive from Stevenage to Milton Keynes and we’d always say imagine playing with Luke Chadwick and Dean Lewington – now I get to play as a professional with him on the pitch."
Manager Russell Martin said, "John deserves it, he’s come back in really good shape, he’s a really good footballer and we knew that before. He’s had to overcome his injury problems and has shown so much resilience and mental toughness to get through the injuries and come through the other side.
The chat I had with John in the Summer was that I didn’t really see him being part of the plans moving forward as I didn’t think he was quite ready. He’s come back and surprised everyone in a positive way. He should be really proud of himself, I’m really proud of him.
"His mentality is brilliant, he wants to train hard and get better. He’s a really mature 18-year-old. He really believes in his ability but he’s very humble. He deserves it, it’s another sign of us using and developing Academy players."
During his two-year apprenticeship period, the midfielder captained the Under-18s on several occasions while also spending time on loan with St. Neots Town, Wantage Town, Kempston Rovers, and Aylesbury United.
Freeman’s scholarship period was due to end in June but, having spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines due to two major injuries, he was granted an extension until his 19th birthday in November.
Handed an opportunity by Russell Martin this summer, Freeman certainly took his chance, impressing enough during pre-season to earn his first professional start in the Carabao Cup Round One tie with Coventry City.
The 18-year-old, who put in a solid performance against the Sky Blues, then starred as a second-half substitute during the EFL Trophy victory over Northampton Town, providing assists for Sam Nombe and Matthew Sorinola’s goals.
Academy Manager John Goodman spoke of the pride everyone in the Academy can feel as another Academy Graduate pens a professional contract.
"I’m really proud of all the good work that has been done over the years of the academy by various members of staff that are still or no longer with us. I’m incredibly grateful to Pete and Russell and the club's ethos around being brave and putting young players into the squad and into the team - we’re very thankful for the support we get from the club."