Anis Mehmeti was over the moon to put pen to paper on a new deal to keep him at Adams Park until 2024, and says he owes a debt of gratitude to development squad coach Sam Grace, boss Gareth Ainsworth and assistant manager Richard Dobson for spotting and nurturing his potential.
The 20-year-old arrived at Adams Park in September 2020 following a spell in non-league with Woodford Town, being scouted by Grace who’d been aware of his blossoming talents at Norwich City’s academy.
Mehmeti burst onto the scene, making his Championship debut just three weeks later, and is now an integral part of the squad – something he says wouldn’t have been possible without the faith shown in him by the staff.
“I’m delighted to get this done,” he beamed. “It’s been a long journey but it’s done and I’m here to stay.
“Right from the beginning I was so happy to be here. It was the right club for me. I always had a vision that I was going to break through and I worked so hard last season. I learned a lot and I can’t thank the staff enough for what they’ve taught me.
“Sam brought me in and believed in my ability, and the gaffer and Dobbo gave me my Championship debut and put their faith in me.
“This club is a perfect match for me and I want to show everyone what I’m about, and help this club get back to where we want to be.”
The Albanian creative midfielder won the club’s Young Player of the Season at the end of his maiden campaign and says he’ll never forget his first appearance for the club against Millwall, or his excellent first career goal against QPR.
“I remember my debut clearly,” he said. “It was October 17th against Millwall, and I remember the day before the gaffer told me I’d earned the right to be on the bench. I came on and did well, tried to play my game, and from then on it’s brilliant.
“After my debut, my favourite moment has to be my goal against QPR. It was my first professional goal, in the dying minutes, in a big game. There were a lot of special moments; all of last year was special for me, even though we ended up getting relegated.”
This year, Mehmeti has already matched the three goals he totalled last season, and says he’s enjoying playing in front of the Wanderers fans after a year behind closed doors.
“I can’t thank the fans enough; I get a lot of love from them and it was a pity not to play in front of them last season.
“I’ve still got a lot more to show and lot more to offer, and I can’t wait to show the fans what I’m capable of.”
And Anis recognises his role as a trailblazer at the club, being the first significant success story of the development squad programme, which was launched in the summer of 2020, and relies on the mentorship of senior professionals to aid the younger players who are just starting out in their careers.
“Bayo, Blooms and all the generals have been great to me. They’re my team-mates but also my family. They’re constantly trying to improve me and add little things to my game. They’ve been in football for so long and they’re all top guys.
“I hope I show everyone else out there what this club is about. It’s obvious what they’ve done with me and they should be able to attract lots more young players because it’s a top club, and if you impress and work hard then you’ll get your chance.”