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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 15:18 GMT
Milner signs Leeds deal
James Milner (left is congratulated by Alan Smith on scoring for Leeds
Milner (left) is the Premiership's youngest scorer
Leeds teenager James Milner has signed his first professional contract with the Yorkshire club.

Danny Mills and Alan Smith have both recently signed new deals with Leeds and Milner's decision to sign professional forms is another boost for the troubled club.

Leeds-born Milner has been fast-tracked into the first-team squad by manager Terry Venables this season.

James is over the moon - he thinks it is fantastic

James' dad Peter Milner
He made his Premiership debut as a substitute at West Ham in November and became the youngster Premiership goalscorer when he scored against Sunderland shortly afterwards.

And Milner was given his first start by Venables in the 2-1 win over the Hammers at Elland Road on Saturday.

Milner was represented in contract negotiations by the Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive Mick McGuire.

"James and Leeds United have been great to deal with, and it is lovely to see young players like this emerging in English football," said McGuire.

"We were aware of James' talent for a long time, but his performances at the end of last year propelled him into the public eye, and we have moved quickly to settle his future for the next few years."

Milner's father, Peter, said the new deal was great news both for the player and the club.

"We are very pleased with the way everything has been handled," said Peter Milner.

"James is over the moon. He thinks it is fantastic. Everything has happened so quickly but he is very level-headed and has taken to it like a duck to water.

"It has to be good news for James and Leeds, who have had it tough lately.

"James thinks the world of Terry Venables and is delighted to be involved."

Unfortunately the joy in the Milner household has been tempered by the theft of Peter's new blue Fiat Leon.

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