Manchester United have swooped to sign defender Chris Smalling from Fulham.
The deal will see Smalling join the Old Trafford outfit in the summer and completes an astounding rise to prominence for a player who was in the non-league ranks with Maidstone two years ago.
Smalling has caught the eye with some excellent performances in the Cottagers' Europa League campaign this season and despite making only nine first-team appearances, Sir Alex Ferguson views the 20-year-old Londoner as having the talent to make a big impact on the game.
United are refusing to state how long Smalling, who will complete the remainder of the season at Fulham, has signed his contract for.
However, it represents a moral victory for Ferguson, who lost out to Arsenal after having a fee agreed with Cardiff for Wales star Aaron Ramsey in 2008.
This time it is Arsene Wenger losing out, after claiming earlier today he was still interested in signing the Greenwich-born player.
"It just looks like Manchester United offered more money than us," said Wenger. "As long as the player has not signed anywhere, it is not the end of it. Let's see what happens there."
Chris who? Smalling's career so far
*Born in Greenwich in November 1989, Smalling began his career at Maidstone, making his debut at 17.
*His elegant style earned him a call-up to the England schools team and attracted the interest of Middlesbrough and Fulham.
*Opting to join Roy Hodgson's side, the centre-back made his debut against Everton in May, and soon played for England Under-21s.
*Handed his full debut at CSKA Sofia – Hodgson praising the "maturity I'm not entitled to expect from a player so young" – before making a first league start at Chelsea last month, where he impressed despite an own goal.Reuse content