Sunderland defender reacts after signing new contract as academy manager predicts strong future

Reaction from Zak Johnson after the teenage defender signed a new contract at Sunderland.

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Teenage defender Zak Johnson has signed a new long-term contract with his boyhood club Sunderland.

The 18-year-old was a consistent starter for the Black Cats’ under-21s side last season and has regularly trained with the first team over the last year.

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Johnson joined Sunderland’s academy aged eight and has signed a three-year deal to extend his stay on Wearside.

The defender told the club’s website: “I am delighted to extend my stay here at Sunderland. This is my home, and it has been for over 10 years now.

“I’d like to thank all my teammates and all the coaches that have helped me develop into the player I am today.

“There is still a long way to go, but I know this is the right place for me to continue my development.”

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Johnson made his Sunderland debut during a Papa John’s trophy match against Manchester United in 2021.

He was part of the squad which travelled to the US for this summer’s pre-season tour, and made his first senior start against Crewe in the Carabao Cup last month.

Sunderland’s academy manager Robin Nicholls added: “Zak has had an outstanding few seasons with the academy. He has consistently performed to an exceptional level, leading to him being stretched into older age groups.

“This led to external recognition when he was selected to play, and captain, England Under-18s in their most recent international camp in June 2023.

“He is someone who always displays the approach and dedication that we believe indicates a strong future with the club.”

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