HARRY Girling has been handed his first ever professional contract with Millwall.

The 18-year-old goalkeeper, from Laindon, has been with the Lions for the past two and half years.

And he is thrilled to extending his spell in South London.

“I know people always say they’re lost for words and speechless but that’s genuinely what happened to me when I found out I was getting my professional contract,” said Girling.

“I was quite confident about the deal but you can obviously never really be sure what’s going to happen so when I found out for definite it was a great moment.

“But the hard work starts now really. It’s just the beginning for me and I want to keep on doing all I can to make sure I can stay at the club by improving my game.”

Girling has enjoyed a fine season with the Lions so far and has been part of their under 21 squad on quite a few occasions.

But the shot-stopper is now eager to feature more regularly in a bid to impress Millwall manager Neil Harris, who lives locally in Eastwood.

“The manager is really good and we’re both Southend supporters so it’s nice to have that in common,” said Girling.

“Long term it’s my ambition to push on and play for him in the first team.

“That’s obviously my dream but I know how hard it will be to make that happen and I know how hard I’ll have to work as well.”

However, Girling will be doing all he can to feature for the Lions and his career path has already drawn comparisons with Southend United goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.

Like Bentley, Girling attended Bromfords School in Wickford and was released by Arsenal before teaming up with a lower league club.

And Girling would love to be able to follow in the foot-steps of Bentley.

“There are similarities in what’s happened to us both but he’s a goalkeeper I really look up to and respect,” said the youngster.

“If I could go on to do as well as he’s done then that would be great but I’m not going to be getting carried away.”