Indy Eleven Academy Director Kiki Wallace, midfielder Diego Sanchez, and club Director of Sport Performance Gabe Zapponi following Sanchez signing professional terms with the club. | Photo courtesy Indy Eleven
INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven announced on Tuesday it had signed Academy standout Diego Sanchez to his first professional contract ahead of the 2024 USL Championship season. Per club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed, and the transaction is pending league and federation approval.
An Indianapolis native, Sanchez has spent the past three seasons with Indy’s First Team as a USL Academy signing and has seen action in a pair of matches. He signed his initial academy contract on Aug. 9, 2021. Heading into the 2023 season, Sanchez was one of 19 players to sign USL Academy Contracts with Indy Eleven and is the second to sign professional terms with the First Team.
“Obviously it’s a lot of emotions right now,” said Sanchez. “I’m at a loss of words to be honest with it, but I’m glad that it’s finally come. I’ve been working for it for quite some time, put in a lot of effort… I’m just glad I’m able to put the pen to the paper and make my dream come true.
“Thank you to all my coaches, all the players, all the teams that I’ve been on. It’s been a journey… I’m happy to be a professional soccer player.”
New Indy Eleven signing Diego Sanchez and his family following his official signing as the newest professional player for the Boys in Blue. | Photo courtesy Indy Eleven
At the Academy level, Sanchez helped lead the club to a USL Academy League Playoffs title in 2021, while being selected as one of four Indy Eleven players to the All-Tournament First Team. The club also won USL Academy Cup Championships in 2022 and 2023, with Sanchez being named to the Boys Best XI in 2023.
This season, the Pro Academy boasted an 11-0-1 regular season record and will make a trip to the 2023 Academy League Playoffs which kick off on December 7 in Tampa, Fla.
“One of the things we’re trying to produce is more trailblazers,” said Indy Eleven Academy Director Kiki Wallace. “We want all the kids in the Academy dreaming big, and as they get older those dreams might settle down and become a little bit more realistic with where they are and what the next step is, but… we want them dreaming of being professional footballers and breaking through here at Indy Eleven.
“It’s fantastic to have Diego continuing down that path because just like guys before him fueled the dream he’s now pursuing, he’s now fueling the dream for the next generation coming up behind him.”