DOMINIC Gape is bidding to follow in the footsteps of Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott after putting pen to paper on his first professional contract at South-ampton.

The 18-year-old midfielder, from Burton Brad-stock, has progressed through the academy at the Saints where he has just started turning out for the under-21s.

He has also been involved in several first-team training sessions this season and was an unused substitute in the Capital One Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday last September.

Gape was presented to the crowd at the St Mary’s Stadium ahead of last Saturday’s Premier League clash against West Bromwich Albion – a moment his father Chris will never forget.

He said: “The whole family went up there and enjoyed a day out on the club, and seeing Dominic introduced to the crowd was just brilliant.

“He has been going up to Southampton ever since he was eight and the way he has progressed has been fantastic, and we are all very proud of him.

“I can also honestly say that over the years never once has he said he did not want to go.

“His attitude, determination and desire have been unbelievable and his commitment and focus has never wavered.

“He still has a bit of a way to go though, and he knows the next step to the first-team squad and first-team football is the biggest of all.

“In order to do that he is going to need his fitness, that little bit of luck, good performances at the right time and coaches and managers that are willing to take a chance on him.

“He has certainly done well so far, so fingers crossed that opportunity will come.”

Trevor Senior was the man that recommended Gape to the Premier League side and he is equally delighted.
The Bridport boss added: “Dominic came to one of my soccer schools when he was six or seven and immediately caught my eye.

“He looked like a little ball of muscle due to a lot of gym work he had done when he was younger, and he always used to do these acrobatic celebrations whenever he scored.

“He was very much like a little Wayne Rooney at the time and was very strong for his age.
“The progress he has made through the academy there has been fantastic and I am absolutely delighted for him because he is such a great lad.

“I am also very pleased for his parents because taking him to Southampton every week has been a big commitment for them as well.”

For much of this season Gape has captained the under-18s, who are managed by Jason Dodd.

The ex-Saints defender told the club’s official website: “Dominic has been a star man. He’s always positive, and that’s what you want. He’s had that mentality to go and do it – he doesn’t shy away, he gets in there, and he thoroughly deserves to get his contract.

“I’d be really disappointed if he doesn’t make the progression from the development group into the first team now because he’s trained with them and they really like him.

“Dom’s got to continue the little curve that he’s on because he has been absolutely fantastic for us.”