APPRENTICE defender Ben Purrington has celebrated his 17th birthday by signing his first professional contract.Exeter-born Ben, who has just finished the first year of his two-year scholarship, put pen to paper on Monday, watched by proud parents Simon and Jane.
Purrington will now report back with the rest of the first-team squad at the beginning of pre-season, alongside fellow academy products Tyler Harvey, Matt Lecointe, Luke McCormick, Curtis Nelson, Jamie Richards, Paul Wotton and Luke Young.
Ben’s progression marks an exceptional year for the former St James High School student, who came to the attention of Argyle manager John Sheridan very early in his tenure.
Following a development friendly at Saltash United in January, John said: “I really liked the way Ben played.
“I said to the kid: ‘[Your age] doesn’t bother me – if you keep playing like that, you’ll be putting things in my mind that you’re good enough and you could to be involved’, even if he is 16.”
Thirsty Work: Ben takes a moment's rest in the
FA Youth Cup victory over Exeter City
Left-back Purrington is a product of the club's Exeter Development Centre, having first signed forms in September 2005 at the tender age of nine.
Ben played for Exeter Schools Under-11 and Under-15 teams and represented Devon at Under-16 level.
A veteran of former Milk Cup campaigns, he captained the Pilgrims in Northern Ireland in 2011.
Called up to the Under-18s whilst still a schoolboy, Ben played against AFC Bournemouth in last season's FA Youth Cup but suffered from a broken leg in November 2011.
Despite this potentially devastating set-back, he went from strength to strength last season, making 13 appearances in the Football League Youth Alliance.
A regular in the club's reserves, Ben has turned out a number of times in development ties, most notably in the final of the St Luke's Cup.