HARTLEPOOL teenager Harry Chapman is celebrating his first England call-up after turning on the style for Middlesbrough.
Chapman, who signed a two-and-a-half year professional contract earlier this season at the Riverside Stadium, has been in sensational form for Boro’s Under-21s and Under-18s.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, I have been on stand-by before but to get the call was great.Harry Chapman
He has been rewarded for his excellent performances with a call-up for the England Under-18s ahead of a double header with Switzerland this week.
Chapman, who left Dyke House Sports & Technology College in July where he was part of the Elite Development Squad scholarship programme, has met up with Neil Dewsnip’s squad at St George’s Park.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, I have been on stand-by before but to get the call was great,” said the 16-year-old, from Seaton Carew.
“It’s already been a great year for me, with my pro contract and now this. I just want to make sure I keep improving.
“There are a lot of footballers out there who have played for England Under-18s and not done much in football after that, so I know I have to keep working hard all of the time to get better.”
Boro boss Aitor Karanka has invited Chapman to train with the Championship’s promotion-chasers on a few occasions this season and has stressed the importance of maintaining his development.
Karanka said: “Harry is a different sort of player. He has trained with us a few weeks and is a real talent, but he needs to know how difficult it is to play in the first team squad.
“He is the kind of player who I don’t have a doubt that he will play in the first team if he works in the same way and develops in the same way. He is exciting.
“He is also a good example for our academy at Middlesbrough. It is not a problem with his age. He has been 16 and has trained with us. In the beginning he was shy when he was surrounded by the first team players but on the pitch he got the ball and he was soon just one of them.”
There will be a mini-bus full of Year 7 and Year 8 Dyke House students travelling down to Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium on Saturday to see the second of the friendlies with Switzerland. The first takes place behind closed doors at Telford on Thursday.
Chapman is included in a 20-man squad also boasting the likes of Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke, Liverpool’s Sheyi Ojo, Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Newcastle’s Adam Armstrong.
His rise on to the young international stage has been noted at Dyke House, where he was one of the first batch of scholars on the College’s Elite sports scholarship programme.
Chapman said: “I got lots of support and encouragement while I was part of the Elite Development Squad at Dyke House and I am still very proud to be associated with holding the squad number one in that squad.”
His mum Debbie said: “Dyke House deserves a lot of praise for the support it have given Harry and so do the Middlesbrough coaches as well as the boss, Aitor Karanka.
“I know how I feel to have such a talented and focused son. He has shown incredible dedication since that first game he had on a Sunday morning playing for Hartlepool St Francis under Peter Everitt. Everyone he has worked with and been involved with has been fantastic. I’m so proud.”