Brentford’s young defender Chris Mepham admitted it was a pleasant surprise to be offered a new long-term contract and join the First-Team ranks at Jersey Road. The 19-year-old put pen-to-paper on a five-year deal on Monday afternoon and has instantly set his sights on breaking into Dean Smith's starting XI.
“I was a bit shocked at the time,” Chris admitted to iFollow Brentford after signing. “I was in the airport when Robert Rowan rang me with the news. It was a pleasant surprise. I was in no doubt that I was going to sign it and I am really pleased to sign it. Training every day with the First-Team is the most important thing. I was surprised with the length of the contract but it shows the hard work that I have put in over the last two seasons has all paid off. Now I have time to properly focus and hopefully get as many games under my belt as possible.”
As well as signing his new deal, Chris is now also a full-time part of the First-Team squad at Jersey Road. The central defender has been training with the First-Team for much of the season so far and feels that will help him adjust quickly to full-time life in Dean Smith’s squad.
“It is a massive thing to go out on the pitch knowing you have the confidence of the club,” said Chris. “It is important to know that you have that time to progress but it is also important not to take your foot off the pedal. I’ve trained with the First-Team before so it isn’t all new to me but it is a new environment being in the First-Team dressing room. You need that little bit of maturity to go up on a day to day basis. There’s a little bit more pressure now but because I’ve trained with them for a while I don’t think too much changes.”
This season has also seen the 19-year-old make his bow for Rob Page’s Wales Under-21s squad, playing in both their 2019 European Championship qualifiers thus far. Chris said that international recognition has been a big confidence boost for him and he feels he has taken well to it.
“The Wales Under-21 call-up has bridged the gap,” said Chris. “Getting two games out there was another step up towards First-Team football. It was another pleasant surprise to get that call-up. It was always going to be difficult for me to start the first time that I went out there because there have been some boys in the system for a while. The second time I went out there I played both games and that shows the confidence they have in me. I don’t feel I let them down at all so hopefully it will be the first of many caps.”