Mansfield striker Ollie Palmer says he is ‘living the dream’ after signing his first ever professional contract.
The former Havant and Waterlooville hitman put pen to paper at the One Call Stadium earlier this month after making a big name for himself in Conference South.
And Palmer, who found the back of the net 37 times for The Hawks, says he is relishing the new challenge ahead and playing in front of much bigger crowds.
“Everything happened really fast,” said Palmer. “I have always wanted to play professional football and I am delighted to be here and excited at the challenge ahead.
“I always felt like I could make it, I just needed a chance and I’m very thakful to Mansfield for giving it me.”
The Surrey-born striker began his career in the Woking youth team but failed to make the grade.
Following a loan spell at nearby Boreham Wood, Palmer was finally given his chance to shine in the first team of Havant and Waterlooville.
And it is a chance Palmer, who is rumoured to have been tracked by Premiership giants Chelsea, took in style to establish himself as one of the most promising strikers in non-league football.
“It was not really working out for me at Woking and I didn’t enjoy my time at Boreham Wood either,” said Palmer.
“It clicked at Havant and Waterlooville and I really enjoyed my time there. They are a great club and it has been a great stepping stone for me.
“I will always be very thankful to them, without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“It will be great to get my first goal for the club, I’m sure once I get one then more will follow.”
And Mansfield boss Paul Cox is tipping Palmner to follow in the footsteps of the man he was signed to replace, Matt Green, and reach Championship level.
“It is great to have the support of the boss and knowing he sees potential in me,” said Palmer.
“I have always worked hard and believed in myself and I will work hard and Mansfield. I hope to play against Exeter, I am more used to playing in front of a few hundred rather than thousands, it is very exciting.”
Mansfield are seeking their first win in the Football League since they beat Shrewsbury 3-1 on 19th April 2008.