New Chesterfield signing Rai Simons says he is aiming to stake a claim for a place in the Spireites’ first team after putting pen to paper on a two-year deal.
Bermudan international striker Simons (19) has signed from Evo-Stik Premier Division side Ilkeston FC having progressed through the Robins’ full-time academy set-up and become a regular in their first team squad this season.
He will join up with Paul Cook’s men in the summer and is thrilled to have signed his first professional contract.
He said: “When I came to England at the age of 15 my primary aim was to play at a high level so I’m really pleased to have signed for Chesterfield.
“There’s a lot of hard work ahead for me if I’m to get into the first team but I feel like my game is improving all the time and with the right application I believe I can make a good impact.”
Simons has seen several of his Ilkeston team-mates progress to higher levels of the game this season.
Che Adams and Kieran Wallace are at Sheffield United, Ashley Hunter and Akil Wright are now at Fleetwood and Kane Richards moved into the Conference Premier with Chester before returning to the New Manor Ground on loan last month.
And Simons says he has been inspired by those players’ success.
He said: “It’s been great to see those guys go on and get moves to higher levels and Che, Kieran and Ash have all been playing regularly in League One which shows that even though we’re coming from four divisions below, we’re capable of getting games at this level too.
“Chesterfield had been watching me and believe there is potential in me they can develop and having trained full-time at Ilkeston I won’t have to adapt too much to that side of things, although I realise it is likely to be a bit tougher physically.”
Simons scored on his full international debut in March and then played a key role as Bermuda got their World Cup qualifying campaign underway with victory over the Bahamas.
He cites past and present Bermuda stars like Shaun Goater and Nahki Wells, who is now at Huddersfield Town, as being big influences on his career and now hopes to help his nation progress in the international arena.
He added: “Our aim is to get to the World Cup qualifying group stage which is hard as we still have a couple more knockout rounds to play, but the game is progressing well in Bermuda and I’m hoping I can do well at Chesterfield to help inspire more players on the island to aim high.”