Jack Harrison gets England U21 call, but who is New York City FC's 'Golden Boy'?
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 04/10/17 10:42am
Jack Harrison has been called up to the England U21 squad, but who is New York City FC’s 'Golden Boy'? We profile the youngster…
At the age of just 20-years-old, the winger has already played with and against some of the best players in the world - Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Frank Lampard and Kaka to name a few.
He is also managed at NYCFC by former Arsenal and Inter Milan midfielder Patrick Vieira and was dubbed 'golden boy' by team-mate Villa when it was announced that Harrison had been called up to the England U21s for their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Scotland and Andorra.
But who is Harrison, what is his background and what lies in store when he joins up with England?
|Age||20 years old|
|Place of birth||Stoke-on-Trent|
|Current club||New York City FC|
Harrison was born in Stoke-on-Trent and raised in Bolton, joining the Manchester United academy for seven years before he moved to the United States at the age of 14.
Speaking about the move across the Atlantic in his teens, Harrison told Sky Sports: "My contract was still with Manchester United but my mum was looking to further my education as well as my soccer career.
"When we looked at schools in America, the facilities and everything were just out of this world. To be able to get that educational piece as well as maintain a different level of soccer, it was good enough, and I learnt enough at school.
"It was one of the better moves that I've done in my life. It's enabled me to become the person I am today and who knows what would've happened if I stayed there [at Manchester United]."
He played high school football in Massachusetts before heading to Wake Forest University, where he had an impressive season and was named Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the year.
New York City FC
Before the 2016 MLS Superdraft, New York City FC tried - and failed - to sign Harrison as a homegrown player two weeks ahead of the draft, having previously played for one of their affiliates, Manhattan Soccer Club.
He was ultimately a first overall pick for Chicago Fire in January 2016, but they traded him to NYCFC for their number four pick and allocation money. Harrison was the first signing made by Vieira at the club.
Harrison was not able to make his NYCFC debut until May 2016 after it was discovered he had a fractured pelvic bone, but eventually made his bow in a 7-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls as a 57th-minute substitute. He went on to make 23 appearances with four goals in the 2016 season.
So far in the 2017 campaign, he has made 32 appearances with 10 goals and three assists as NYCFC look set to make the MLS Cup play-offs with the side currently second in the MLS Eastern Conference table.
"I think Jack is improving as a player," manager Vieira told MLSSoccer.com after Harrison scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win against Montreal Impact, just a few days before his England U21 call-up was announced.
"I think he's a better player today than he was last year. He's working really hard for the team, and when we play the way we played today we were always creating chances, and he scored a fantastic goal. I think there is no doubt about his talent but he needs to keep working hard to keep developing his talent."
On October 1, 2017, Harrison was called up to the England U21 team by manager Aidy Boothroyd to replace the injured Sheyi Ojo and joined up with the side at St George's Park on Monday evening.
Speaking to NYCFC's official website about the call, Harrison said: "I was thrilled when I found out. I was really speechless when Patrick told me just before the game [against Chicago Fire]. It's an exciting opportunity and one I'm very grateful for.
"I never thought this would happen when I moved out here when I was 14. It's a special moment and I'm going to cherish it. I'm so excited to be travelling over and doing the best I can. It's an honour to represent my country."
He could make his debut against one of England's biggest rivals, Scotland, on Friday in a U21 European Championship qualifier before the team travel to Andorra on Tuesday.
Harrison has been congratulated on social media by former England international Lampard and World Cup winner Villa, with manager Vieira adding: "It's really good news for Jack, it's really good news for the football club and of course I'm really pleased for him because he's improved a lot and he loves the game.
"I just want him to enjoy it - it will be a great, positive experience to be surrounded by players who play in the Premier League and I just want him to show how good he is because if the manager called him, it means he deserves it."
If Boothroyd is to use him on the wings where he has mostly been deployed for NYCFC this season - primarily on the right - he will face competition from the likes of Demarai Gray, Ademola Lookman and Tammy Abraham, but Harrison can also play as an attacking midfielder or centre-forward.
It remains to be seen if Harrison will be earning his first England cap over the international break but as Vieira has said, there is no doubting his talents and being at St George's Park can only improve this further.