Woodman presented with Premier League debut ball
Written by Tom Easterby
Newcastle United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman feels it would have been “unjust” had his Premier League debut not come in a Magpies shirt.
The 24-year-old was presented with a commemorative ball by the Premier League this week, marking his top flight bow in August's season opener against West Ham at St. James' Park.
And Woodman, who rose through the youth ranks after joining United in 2013, says it was fitting that his debut came in the colours of the club he has grown up representing.
"It was an immensely proud day for me and my family. I think for anyone who makes their debut, it's a massive day for them," he said. "I was absolutely buzzing. I would have loved to have got the win, but I think looking back on the day as a whole, I'll be forever proud.
"I felt like if I didn’t do it with Newcastle United, it would almost feel a bit unjust. I've been here for so long. My education as a footballer has been with Newcastle United.
"It's probably extra special, and not a lot of people will be able to say they did it for such a big club in front of such a big fanbase. People can come up from the Championship and make their Premier League debuts, but I almost feel that playing and doing it for Newcastle, especially with the stadium and the fans, in a home game – that made it special."
Woodman will add the debut ball to his extensive collection of memorabilia from his time in the game so far, which includes golden glove awards – from the Under-20 World Cup, the Toulon Tournament and the Championship – and plenty of match-worn shirts from the six clubs he has featured for, as well as his country.
He has also recently started collecting matchday programmes from games he’s been involved in, and is conscious of keeping mementos from what he knows is a relatively short career.
"My mum keeps hold of all my awards and stuff – back home, in the living room, she’s got my golden glove from the World Cup, Toulon, the Championship. She's got all my awards, so this will probably go with that," he explained.
"I can always look back on it and it signals my Premier League debut, which is nice – it's a nice touch from the Premier League for everyone to remember the day they made their debut.
"It will be a nice thing to look back on, especially with my other awards as well. When I do go back to London with my family, it gives me a reminder of what I've done and what I've achieved. It gives me motivation to go on and achieve more.
"I speak to a lot of old players and ex-players, and I always ask them, 'where's your medals? Where's your shirts?', and they never ever kept any of their stuff, or they don’t know where it is. Even my dad (former Northampton and Oxford goalkeeper Andy) – he doesn't have much stuff. It will be nice for me to keep all the stuff I have, especially this Premier League ball, and when I do get old and everyone’s forgotten about me I'll be able to say, 'yeah, I did actually play in the Premier League!'"
Since his bow on that first-day defeat to the Hammers, Woodman has suffered a minor injury in training, with his place between the sticks taken by Karl Darlow.
The rapidly-shifting nature of the sport isn't a revelation to the former Swansea City loanee – but he says that, when he has recovered, he will be up for the battle of reclaiming the number one spot that he worked so hard to earn.
"Like I've said a lot, football is forever changing," he said. "Situations are forever changing. It's how you deal with that change, and really focusing on what you can control.
"I feel that will help me get myself into the next situation, and then when football does change again, I'll always be ready.
"It's just how I deal with this little injury, get myself back to fitness, train every day and keep improving. That has to be the focus, and has always been the focus."
"I felt like if I didn’t do it with Newcastle United, it would almost feel a bit unjust. I've been here for so long. My education as a footballer has been with Newcastle United."