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"It's something I'll remember forever" - Harrison on lifting silverware with England

After winning the Mondial Montaigu Tournament with England Under-16s earlier this month, teenage midfielder Ollie Harrison admitted the experience was a one he'll never forget.

The 15-year-old, who has featured for Newcastle’s under-18 side this term, made his international bow in the Young Lions’ opening group fixture against New Caledonia, playing the full game in La-Roche-sur-Yon.

Greg Lincoln’s side recorded a 100 per cent win record in their respective group before beating Romania 8-7 on penalties in the semi-final stages following a goalless draw, with Harrison netting England’s seventh successful spot-kick to help his side progress into the final before tasting further shoot-out success after beating Japan 4-3 on penalties after a consecutive stalemate in Montaigu.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” Harrison told nufc.co.uk. "It was my first time away with England for the 50th anniversary of the tournament and it was class to win it, such a big tournament, which we hadn’t done for eight years. It’s something I will remember forever.

“It was a huge honour for me to represent England but for my family as well. I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the years and a huge part of it comes from Newcastle and all the staff that have helped me at the Academy. My under-16s coaches are Iain (Bogie) and Mark (Atkinson) and I work with Graeme (Carrick) and Chris (Moore) when I play for the under-18s.

"Everyone at the club have put a huge amount of time into my development as a player so to go away with England and prove the player I am, playing well in the tournament, showed hard work can pay off. Since I’ve come back to the Academy (from international duty), everyone has been really positive, like they always are, and asked me how it went which has been great."

Venturing over to France to participate in the tournament, it was a one in which Harrison faced a number of different scenarios during England's passage to a seventh title, with little recovery time in-between the 80-minute matches.

The Blaydon-born teenager added: “In the first game, we faced New Caledonia and I started that game which I was surprised about. It was a squad of 24 players with five games in ten days so I knew there was going to be a lot of rotation but I didn’t really know what to expect with it being my first camp.

“We got off to a good start, winning 2-0, and then we beat Central African Republic 3-2 in the second game. I didn’t play in that one but the lads showed great character to come from two goals down.

“I started the one after that against Belgium, which was almost a group decider as whoever won went through to the semi-finals. We won 3-0 which was a class win and one of the highest points of our tournament.

“We then faced Romania in the semis and I came on for the last half hour. It went to penalties, which was a nerve-racking experience, but I stepped up to take one and scored which is something I won’t forget. We won 8-7, which was a long shoot-out, and then we played Japan in the final.

“I started the final, which I was over the moon about, and played the full game. It went to another penalty shoot-out, which was a bit shorter than the last one, and the place just lit up when we won.

“It’s not easy winning on penalties, as we’ve seen over the years, but to win two shoot-outs was class. After we won the first one, we were quite positive and that made the victory even more sweeter."

The competition has been no strangers to world-class youngsters over the years, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappé all playing in the tournament and Harrison believes his success on the international stage can only motivate him further in continuing to follow in the footsteps of his footballing icons.

The St. Thomas More Catholic School pupil added: “Meeting new people and great players was a brilliant experience for me. I’ve enjoyed playing with Newcastle for the under-18s, moving up into older age groups, and going away with England was unbelievable.

“I also enjoyed playing in France, going abroad, and learnt so much from playing in such a big tournament. There was a lot of fans at the matches, I think there was a few thousand watching the final, and the atmosphere was really good as it was played in a small village.”

“The ultimate dream is playing at the top level. That’s what you work for everyday as a footballer, especially at the Academy. Just naming some of the players that have played in this competition before we played New Caledonia, I think everyone was just shocked and I think that’s an ultimate drive to try and be like your idols."

Harrison, who primarily plays in the middle of the park, has relished the 2022/23 campaign and, ass well as representing his country, revealed this term has been highly challenging yet rewarding.

“I think it’s been a good season for me so far,” Harrison said. "I started the season really well, playing games for Newcastle under-16s and worked hard to get into the under-18s. I’ve played a few matches for them but then picked up an injury halfway through the season which was quite tough as I was on a good run of matches for the under-18s.

“I just had to work hard to get back to the best level after my injury. Since then, I played a few matches and then got the England call-up which was really positive. I’m back playing with the under-18s, which I love. It’s a great test, physically, going up against older lads and helps with my development as a player.

“The goal is play at the top level for Newcastle. That’s always been a dream of mine since I was a young lad. I need to keep developing as a player, like I am now, and hopefully it continues to be positive in the future."

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