Why Joe Gelhardt chose to stay with Wigan Athletic

Joe Gelhardt
Joe Gelhardt

"I just like being here."

The simple yet powerful reason why Young England star Joe Gelhardt opted to pen a long-term contract extension with Wigan Athletic.

Gelhardt had over 18 months left on his current arrangement, but has agreed a new deal that the Wigan Post understands is as long as five years.

"It's a great privilege to play for this club," he said. "I enjoy coming into work every day, it's a great environment

"I love working with all of the staff and the senior players have always been very welcoming.

"The fans have given me a big boost with their messages of support.

"I just like being here - which is why I've extended my contract."

The 17-year-old has yet to make his first league start, but his eight substitute appearances have already led to him becoming a firm favourite with the supporters.

"It's a big confidence boost when I hear the fans singing my name," he acknowledged.

"It gives me that extra percentage and I want to do my best for the fans when I play."

And having dipped his toe into the first-team water - and scored his maiden goal at Hull in September - he's looking to kick on now his future is secure.

"It's been my first season in the first team squad, and it's been good to get on the bench and make a few appearances," Gelhardt added.

"It's been very beneficial for me and I've been involved a lot more than I thought I would be, so I've just got to carry on working hard.

"It was a big jump coming from the Under 18s to the first team, physically more than technically, but my body has become used to it.

"Pre-season was tough, but the more I've trained as part of the squad, the better I've felt."