Louie Sibley’s breakthrough season at Derby County over the course of the 2019/20 campaign has been a memorable one.
The 18-year-old midfielder made his senior debut earlier in the campaign before his impressive displays at Under-23 level saw him become a first-team regular in the latter months of the season.
After scoring his first-ever professional goal - in what was his first league start - in a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in early March, Sibley never looked back.
He featured in all nine of Derby’s fixtures following the resumption of the season, after a three-month delay due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and scored a further four goals in the process.
Sibley, one of several Academy players to make the step up to Phillip Cocu’s first-team squad during the season, says he’s proud to be representing the club he grew up supporting as a boy.
After concluding the season with 17 appearances to his name, he is already keen to continue his progression in 2020/21.
“It’s been fantastic,” Sibley told RamsTV.
“It started in the cup games at the start of the season and then my first league start against Blackburn Rovers in March.
“I’m really proud to play for the club and in every opportunity that I get I am going to keep trying to prove what I can do.
“During the break we have now, I will think of all the things that I have done well and that I need to do to get better.”
He added: “Hopefully for next season I can come back even better.”
Sibley is one of six players from the club’s Academy to have made their first-team debuts during the campaign.
The likes of Max Bird, Jason Knight, Morgan Whittaker and Lee Buchanan - and Sibley – have quickly made the step up from the 2018/19 title-winning Under-18 side to the senior set-up.
Making the transition with a number of his close friends is a unquie situation but one that Sibley has fully embraced and enjoyed.
He said: “There are quite a few of us now that have broken through which is great.
“We know each other and we are good mates on and off the pitch so to get your mates come through with you is so pleasing.
“I think we have all proven what we can do in the Under-19s and Under-23s - winning cups and leagues - so to step on the pitch at first team level is great for the club.”
Sibley concluded by praising the first-team and Academy staff and said: “All the hard work - from the gaffer, the first team staff, the Academy - you don’t see all that they have done off the pitch, but it’s fantastic.”