Southend United goalkeeper Harry Seaden played for England U17s on Wednesday night as they came from 2-0 down to beat Portugal 3-2 at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium.
Seaden made his ninth appearance for the Young Lions on the night, the eight before coming at both U16 and U17 level, as England began their international tournament in the Midlands with a win.
Fresh from their World Cup triumph in India where they beat Spain 5-2 in the final, a new-look England side continued their fine form thanks to goals from Thomas Doyle, an own goal and Bobby Duncan.
And ahead of linking up with squad, Seaden spoke about his pride at being called up.
“It’s amazing to wear the shirt and play in front of a big crowd,” said the first-year shotstopper. “It’s about getting games under my belt. It’s a different test from here, playing club football, but it’s a great experience.”
“My main goal at the start of the year was to be involved in the European Championships in the summer and get a few caps throughout the season, as well as playing well here. I want to try and push for that. I’ve gone from Sunday league all the way up to the top in two or three years, and that’s down to my mentality; I’ve had the same mentality from Sunday league at Rayleigh Boys.”
The former Fitzwimarc School pupil is perfectly-placed to speak about the ability of his Blues team-mates, having regularly come into contact with leading Premier Academy League stars from the likes of the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal for his country. Indeed, he is the only squad member to be named from outside of the top two tiers of English football.
“The level here at Southend is different, but the grit and determination at this standard would help them out a lot. The higher up you go there are better players, but maybe they don’t have the same mentality. You have to get used to it and see how different players react, but it’s good,” he explained.
The 16-year-old also paid tribute to the goalkeeping staff at Boots & Laces for their role in his development. A member of the club’s shadow squad since the age of eight, he has worked closely with the likes of Terry Mason, Reece Otley and latterly Lee Harrison during his time with Blues. He has also been able to talk to his father, John, who played 21 games himself for Southend, about his experience.
“The goalkeeping coaches here have helped me out a lot. I’ve been working with Terry since U9s when I was in the shadow squad and when I came into the building Lee Harrison has helped me out massively. I’d like to say thank-you to them,” he declared.
“The gaffer has given youngsters a good chance and Ted [Smith] was young, Bents [Dan Bentley] was young, so fair play to him. That’s something to strive for and look forward to. Ted being injured this season has really helped me out. It’s unlucky, but it happens in football. I’ve been playing U18s and U23s and getting a lot of experience. Growing up, this is what I wanted to do with my life.”
“It’s been brilliant. It’s a different test from U16s and a different mentality. Coming in full-time is a dream job. Bournemouth U23s had Callum Wilson playing, and he’s obviously a first-team player, and that was a great test. I’m 16 and he’s been playing in their first-team, so it’s brilliant to be tested like that.”
“From a young age, I was always going to be a footballer. My dad has helped me out a lot, even though he didn’t play in the same position, telling me to keep my head. He’s told me about the environment with the first-team. At Boots & Laces it’s intense because you’re in with the first-team and it’s good to have him to back me up.”