Jack Harrison will get his first international opportunity the England U-21s. (Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Forward Jack Harrison received some unexpected and surprising news before New York City FC took on the Chicago Fire Saturday night.
He was called in by the England Under-21 national team.
The call-up doesn’t mean the 20-year Harrison is inelgible to play for the U.S. national team. He has to play in a competition for the full national side of a country to lock him him.
England faces Scotland and Andorra in UEFA Euro U-21 qualifiers next week.
“I was thrilled when I found out; I was really speechless when Patrick told me just before the game tonight,” Harrison told NYCFC.com. “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. Every year this league is growing and you only have to watch the games to see that it’s getting better and better every year. “I’m so excited to be traveling over and doing the best I can. It’s an honor to represent my country.”
The 5-9, 155-lb. Harrison has scored a career-high 10 goals with NYCFC this season, second only to team captain David Villa.
“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,” City head coach Patrick Vieira said.
“I think it just shows how the league can be challenging for players and that it can be the right place for players to come to develop their talents. Jack going to play for England U-21s will send a message to the players that the league is good enough to get to the international level.”
England hosts Scotland at Middlebrough’s Riverside Stadium Friday, before visiting Andorra Oct. 10.
“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,” Vieira said.