Date: 27th December 2006 at 9:20am
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Last week Blackburn Rovers academy midfielder Mamadi Keita signed his first professional contract with the club.

I know that it may well be a week or so since he signed the deal but I’ve not had a chance to cover the story yet and give the youngster the mention that I feel his future potential will deserve.

Having just turned 17-years-old (in November) after impressing in Gary Bowyer’s youth set-up this season the African born footballer, who was raised in Germany was handed his first professional contract at Ewood Park shortly before Christmas, what a present that was for the youngster!

This season is only his second with the club and his first was disrupted by injuries so this proves just how highly rated Keita is to be offered a contract on only half a season of serious football with the club.

I haven’t seen the youngster myself but he regularly receives glowing reports from his academy outings and is said to play the Claude Makelele type role? if he turns out to be half the player Makelele is the academy will be producing yet another gem, could he follow in the footsteps of the likes of Damien Duff and David Dunn?

Martin Olsson, Tony Kane, Andy Taylor, Keith Treacy, Joe Garner, Raffaele Di Vita and Matt Derbyshire are the most recent academy products in or around the reserve team set up, some of which are even members of the current first team squad with Derbyshire currently playing. Hopefully all of these can come through to be part of the Rovers future?

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