Brooklyn Ilunga has put pen to paper on his first professional contract with MK Dons.
Ilunga, 17, joined the Club at the age of seven and progressed through the Academy ranks before signing scholarship terms in August 2020.
He made his senior debut on the final day of the 2020/21 campaign and has featured a further three times this season, including a first start in the Papa John’s Trophy win over Wycombe Wanderers earlier this month.
“This is a proud moment for me and my family,” Ilunga said in his exclusive interview with iFollow MK Dons. “To sign a professional contract is what every Academy player dreams of doing.
“I’m grateful to God and I’m grateful for the Club and the staff here for helping me develop and providing me with the chance to show what I can do - I hope I can make everyone proud.
“I spoke to the Chairman when I signed and he congratulated me and told me this is just the beginning. The work starts now - I’m grateful for the first contract but I need to work for the next one now.”
Ilunga is the first Academy product to turn professional since the appointment of Liam Sweeting as Sporting Director and Liam Manning as Head Coach and joins seven other MK Dons Academy products in the current first-team squad.
Head Coach Liam Manning said: “I am delighted for Brook and his family at this special moment in his footballing career.
“He has earned this contract through good performances, both in training and in games, as well as by demonstrating a hard-working mentality and a willingness to learn and develop – these characteristics will be just as important as he begins his professional journey.
“From a Club perspective, it is fantastic to see another young boy from Milton Keynes come all the way through the Academy into the first team – it is an important part of what MK Dons is all about.”
Sporting Director Liam Sweeting added: “As a club we talk a lot about the pathway from our Academy to our first team and I’m really pleased to show once again the opportunities we are able to give our young players.
“As a scholar, Brook has already made his first-team debut and followed that up with two further substitute appearances and then a start in our recent win over Wycombe Wanderers in the Papa John’s Trophy. That kind of impact deserves recognition and this has arrived for Brook in the form of a professional contract.
“It is testament to the years of dedication from both Brook and his family to come all the way through the age groups here at MK Dons and arrive at the next chapter to establish himself further.
“As Brook transitions from the Academy to the First Team, it is crucial we continue to monitor his development and game time. An individual development plan has, therefore, been put in place by our First-Team Coach, David Wright, and this will be monitored by Liam Manning and myself as we continue to enjoy the excitement Brook brings to the pitch.”
Academy Jon Goodman also commented: “Everybody within the Academy is incredibly proud of Brooklyn for achieving his first professional contract.
“He reflects the values we challenge each academy player to aspire towards – he is eager to learn, exciting to watch and humble as a person too.
“We look forward to seeing him progress under the guidance of the first-team staff over the coming years.”