Beni Baningime has signed his first professional contract with Everton Football Club.
The 18-year-old midfielder has agreed a deal that will run until the end of the 2017/18 season.
Baningime first joined Everton’s Academy shortly after moving to England from the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of eight.
He progressed through the Club’s youth set-up to captain the Under-18s to glory in the prestigious Dallas Cup earlier this year.
“I’m made up that I’ve got the contract,” Baningime told evertonfc.com. “I’d like to thank everyone; my family and the Academy coaches for all having faith in me.
“I’m happy with the way I have progressed. At the end of last season, I found my form and was playing well. It’s carried on into this season and hopefully it continues even longer.
“I had no idea the contract was coming. I was surprised that I went away with the Under-23s in pre-season because I thought I would be with the Under-18s for most of this year. David Unsworth had faith in me and I’m delighted that it has paid off.”
Alongside coach Unsworth, this season Baningime has advanced to represent Everton Under-23s, earning starts in the Checkatrade Trophy matches against Bolton Wanderers and Cheltenham Town.
“Beni has been brilliant,” Unsworth added. “His form has been outstanding over the last 18 months.
“Like at any level, if you produce performances, you get your rewards. His reward is an earlier pro contract than he thought he may have.
“Beni is a top lad who wants to learn, listens and applies himself in the Everton way. I’m very proud of him but this is just the start of his professional journey.”