The MLS’s very own Jack Harrison is currently preparing to face Scotland and Andorra in U21 European Championship Qualifying with Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21s, despite having never played a Professional Game in England.
We caught up with the New York City star at an exclusive U21 Media Day at St George’s Park yesterday afternoon to find out just how he is feeling ahead of his International debut.
Speaking exclusively, the exciting winger stated,
“I can’t believe I am here, it’s a great opportunity that I am grateful for and a great honour to represent your Country at any level really”.
Harrison began his journey in the Manchester United Academy, but they in his early teens decided a move to The US was best to pursue his Career,
“I was at Manchester United from the age of 6-14 and then I spent some time out there at Berkshire Boarding School, then moved onto Wakefield University and then got drafted, it’s definitely not the most stereotypical path but I made the most of it”.
The starlet is now enjoying his second season in The MLS, after being voted Gatorade College Footballer of the Year previously.
During his time with City, he has had the pleasure of working under Football Great Patrick Vieira, but just how did the former World Cup winner tell Harrison about his call-up?
“On Saturday night before the Chicago Game, Patrick called me over and said, “I am not meant to tell you this but you have been called up for The U21s”, I didn’t believe him at first, I was just so excited and it was a great moment”.
Following Harrison’s initial success in The US, scoring and assisting several in his first season, many fans called for his call-up to The USA National Team, but Harrison addressed those rumours.
“I have always thought of myself as English and there have been a few conversations recently about me playing for The US, I have never really been opposed to that but I am just focussing on right now and not the future”.
“Obviously, I watch The Premier League every weekend and it’s great to keep up with it as well, but I would definitely recommend for any young Player to come over to The US just for that extra Game time and experience”.
Harrison is not alone in terms of English talent in The MLS with the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Liam Ridgewell all featuring in recent seasons.
However, The League has been known as a “Retirement Home” for older Players to finish their Careers, Harrison doesn’t see it this way.
“It has always been looked down on”, exclaimed the young charge, “The League is improving fast with the veterans coming in but the young Players too developing, it’s definitely a lot harder than people think.
“It’s very different, you can’t explain it really but it is harder than the English people, especially, think it is”.
Even for all the benefits of The MLS, recent talk has linked the starlet with a move back to Manchester United or even Manchester City, under the same Organisation as his current New York Side, The City Football Group.
But, what does Harrison himself make of the recent rumours of his return to England and The Premier League?
“Everyone wants to play in the best Leagues in The World and I would be very excited if that opportunity was to come along.
Right now, I’m just focused on being in New York and finishing off the season and hopefully winning something through The Play-Offs this year”.
Partial relief for MLS fans perhaps at the fact that one of The League’s brightest prospects will be staying put for the meantime, for how much longer though?
However, the focus is very much on the task at hand for Harrison and tomorrow night’s trip to The Riverside, which “isn’t quite like The Yankee Stadium”, according to the youngster.
Even before his call-up to the Squad, the charge was the recipient of some high praise both in Europe and The States.
But, more recently, from none other than his current Boss at St George’s Park Aidy Boothroyd.
We caught up with the former Watford Boss yesterday afternoon and he had this to say about the starlet,
“We looked at his stats and watched some of his Games and realized that he was someone we really needed to follow-up on”.
So, with one of The MLS’s brightest midfielders now getting the chance to showcase his skills on the World Stage, will he be able to advocate for the real quality available in The US? And more importantly, help England along the path to Italy & San Marino 2019?