Jordan Adebayo-Smith heaped praise on his loan spell at Grantham Town as the young forward won the Academy Player of the Season.
The 18-year-old arrived at Sincil Bank as an Apprentice in the summer of 2018, after impressing in a trial game with the Academy, and signed from X Academy.
Adebayo-Smith made a work-experience loan switch to Grantham Town in February and scored a brace on his debut against South Shields, a club which he would also score a hat-trick against at youth level on City’s FA Youth Cup run.
“I was a little bit sceptical to begin with because it’s a new thing for me, as I’d never been on loan before," he said.
“It (the loan spell) really helped me and I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have learned in youth football.
“I believe that men’s football is really the way forward for gaining experience to working towards the pro game.”
Although Jordan has only started one game for the Imps prior to his move to the Gingerbreads, he has trained with the first team on a regular basis this season.
“I’m used to being around the squad and they’re a great bunch of guys,” he said.
“They teach me a lot and I’m getting more confidence around them too.”
The lightning-quick forward had never played Academy football before signing for the Imps, and was even rejected from his school team during his time in education.
These disappointments have only fuelled the London-born youngster to greater things, as he received recognition at the End of Season Awards with his Academy achievement.
“I’ve worked hard since the moment I got here to try and be the best I can.
“I train hard every day and it’s great to win the achievement to recognise that.
“My standards will only get higher now too because I have been playing with better players each day, so all that is helping with my game for me to become a better player.”
An ever-present on the scoresheet with the under-18s, Adebayo-Smith reserved special praise for the coaching staff who have helped him along the way in his first season with the Imps.
“Tom (Shaw) has been there since the start, he picked me up from the trial game because he obviously saw potential in me,” he added.
“Tom, Damian (Froggatt) and all the Academy staff have been fantastic with me from the moment I arrived.”