WHEN teenage soccer player Peter Skapetis moved from Glen Waverley to join English championship club Birmingham last year he was set on eventually playing in the English Premier League.
That dream is a step closer after the sure-footed striker earned a professional contract with Premier League newcomer Queens Park Rangers last month.
The 17-year-old former Rowville Sports Academy student joined Birmingham on a youth team contract last June but by the new year he had trialled with the Rangers and was offered a professional contract, which he quickly accepted.
The 18-month contract will see him play with the Rangers' youth team and at times with the reserves, although good form could see him earn a place in the senior side.
Skapetis said the move was a major advancement for his career as he joins a Rangers club which is rapidly upgrading facilities and investing in its playing squad.
"It shows that hard work pays off," he said.
"I worked hard in those five or so months with Birmingham and got one start in their reserves side and some bench appearances.
"It will now be more challenging with QPR because they have a bigger squad but making it harder to play reserves or even senior football will give me something to work towards."
Skapetis said the youth team and reserves players regularly mixed with the Rangers' senior players in the gym and around the club.
Rangers feature several English stars including Joey Barton, Shaun Wright Phillips and Anton Ferdinand.
"It's great to be around them every day, you see them around and they say hello to you," he said.
Skapetis said he wanted to do his best as a striker for the Rangers' youth side and hoped to break into the first team in the next year.
"In the short term I want to keep doing well and score goals," he said.
"I want to contribute as much as I can and hopefully make a first team appearance in the next six to 12 months."
Skapetis will also continue his schooling through the club, with youth team players doing classes on Sunday afternoons and each Wednesday.