By Sports Reporter
ENGLAND-BORN Zimbabwean teenage striker Leon Chiwome has penned his first professional contract with English Premier League side Wolves, capping off an impressive opening seven months since arriving at the club.
Born in Brighton to a Zimbabwean father and a British mother, the 17-year-old was signed from AFC Wimbledon in July 2022 after being scouted while playing for Alfold FC and the Sussex Schools FA team.
Chiwome has already made quite an impression with Wolves’ Under-18 and under-21 sides which earned him selection to the England Under-17 side, where he scored a hat-trick against Germany in an international friendly last month.
The gifted teenage sensation did not waste any time settling at Wolves after scoring in his first two fixtures for Wolves and has thrived in his new environment.
A period of injury tested the character of the forward, but the Wolves academy manager for football, Jon Hunter-Barrett, has been delighted with the impact Chiwome has made at the club.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Leon at a great football club,” Hunter-Barrett said in an interview on the Wolves Academy’s official website. “He’s a keen worker, great shape and size, knows where the back of the net is and really athletic.
“He’s progressed very well in such a short period of time having already represented the under-18s, under-21s and also England at youth level. He’s definitely got a lot of potential and it’s great that everyone internally and externally can see that.
“I want to give credit to our recruitment team who have done an unbelievable job in identifying Leon as a player with potential to come into the programme. Seeing how quickly and how well he’s progressed since coming here is testament to himself, but also to them.
“As much as we see a bright future for him, it’s important we take things step-by-step. Part of his plan is going to be under-18s and under-21s, as well as getting himself back into the England set-up.”
Wolves’ head of UK academy recruitment Harry Hooman said the Zimbabwean striker had all the tools they were looking for in a number nine and tipped him for a very bright future.
“Credit to the scouts and recruitment team as a whole who saw that potential in Leon,” Hooman said. “We felt he had all the attributes that we look for in a number nine and he can do a bit of everything, but was far from the finished article.
“He’s come in and progressed quicker than we actually envisaged. He’s got that real desire to improve which has helped and has been like a sponge since he’s come in.
“He had all those attributes but then it’s down to the coaches and the support staff who have helped him, alongside his own attitude and desire to improve.”
Hooman has explained how Chiwome’s route into football meant that Wolves had to act quick if they were to get their man, keeping a close eye on the attacker for a period of months last year before deciding to secure his services after recognising the potential.
“It was a real intense period of scouting him because he was quite late into the system. He was identified by some of the scouts and we then watched him every week over a period of a couple of months before making a decision.
“He’s the profile of the number nine we wanted to bring into the club and they’re not easy to come by. We feel he can do a little bit of everything – he’s got athleticism and pace to run in behind, he scores goals, can lead the line and is also good with his back to goal to bring others into play. His physical attributes really stood out when we watched him as well.
“I like to think that we saw the potential in him but there was no rush for it to happen, so credit to him – he’s taken the opportunity and has just got to keep working hard now. It’s been good to see him go and score goals for England and get that recognition. Us as scouts have been out to watch him in those games and I went out for his England game recently. It’s a great story coming from a category three club to then be wearing the number nine for England.”