Bristol Rovers has announced that Charlie White from Cheddar has signed professional terms with the Club.

The 18-year-old has put pen-to-paper on his first professional deal with the Gas, having first joined Rovers three years ago.

White, who has impressed with his performances and efforts in the Rovers Academy,  is thrilled to have earned his first deal as a professional footballer.

“It feels surreal to sign my first professional deal,” White said. “It’s a big, big moment for both myself and my family. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I feel like I’ve achieved something really big in getting this contract.

“Now, the hard work really begins, and I know I need to hit the ground running and prove myself to the manager, staff and players in the first team.”

It has been a challenging year for White, who sustained a serious injury in pre-season last summer; one that halted his involvement in the first-team squad during preparations for the 2023/24 campaign.

It was another setback to overcome for a lad who joined Rovers at 15, backing himself to find a new home after his departure from the Southampton Academy.

“I left Southampton at 15 years old,” White explained. “I had a trial with Rovers and I feel like I did well, and I hit the ground running. I was playing U18s football here at 16, and I got offered a scholarship. That was huge and made me want to give even more.

“I loved being a scholar. It was so good, and you get a sniff of what being in professional football would be like. It was something I really enjoyed and it made me want it even more.

“Last pre-season, we played Brentford ‘B’ and I got injured. I thought I was doing well and thought I had given myself a chance of training regularly with the first team, but that injury put me out for three months. I had to work to come back from that, and find some consistent performance. I think I was able to do that with a lot of help and support from the coaches and physios with the Academy.

“I learned so much about myself while injured. I’d never had an injury like that before so, to be out for three months, it was a real shock to me. I had to mentally prepare myself and also stay fit in the gym and also do my rehab. It was a struggle but it was worth it, and I think I’ve come through it stronger.”

The defender has worked hard to earn his opportunities, training with the senior side when called upon and featuring in first-team  squads previously, making his first appearance on the bench against Crawley Town in a Carabao Cup first-round tie back in August 2022.

All the hard work has been worth it, both for White and his family, after the news about his professional deal at the end of last season.

“I got told on a Friday, after one of our last sessions of last season. I was really nervous but Byron came over and told me, and I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really know what to say.

“When my mum found out, she started crying, and my dad was over the moon too. Everyone in my family is so happy for me. They’ve done so much for me on my journey so far. Things like taking me to and from training and matches all the time, and so much else as well. So I know it means just as much to them as it does to me.”

Determined to give even more and become even better, White refuses to rest on his laurels just because he has earned his professional contract.

Now, according to the defender, is the time for the truly hard work to begin. This pre-season presents a big opportunity for White. It is a chance to learn, grow and develop.

It is an opportunity he is eager to grasp with both hands.

“I’m really looking forward to pre-season,” he added. “I’m excited to work with the lads again. I hope the fans got an idea of what I’m about last summer in pre-season too, and it’s a shame I didn’t get to show them more. I think I’ve got much more to give and show. I want to drive forward as an attacking full-back and give 110 per cent in every single game, and make the most of every chance that comes my way.

"There are some top professionals at Rovers with a lot of experience. Players like Scott Sinclair, who have done it all, he’s a real inspiration to a lot of people. He’s a truly hard worker as well so, for me, he’s someone to learn from through pre-season and into the new season.

“I just really want to prove myself. I want to show them what I can do and why I’ve got this pro deal, and hopefully I can earn some minutes in pre-season and stake a claim to be with the first team as the new season starts.”