Worksop to Marbella – Sheffield Wednesday’s Jack Hall hoping to make his mark with England alongside starlets from Chelsea, Liverpool and more…
Most people will never know what it’s like to get a call saying that they’re amongst their nation’s elite in terms of what they do for a living, so Jack Hall and his parent must be proud as punch right now…
Hall might only be 16-years-old, but after around a decade of working his way up through the ranks at Sheffield Wednesday, he’s starting to make some real strides towards his eventual goal of becoming a first team goalkeeper.
The shot-stopper from Worksop is punching above his weight at club level after being given the chance to test himself at U23 level, and – despite only recently starting his scholarship with the Owls – he seems to be acquitting himself nicely.
It was revealed not that long back that the talented teen had made it onto the radar of England’s youth setup, and it was after an U23 game against Coventry City last month that it was decided that the time had come for him to get the nod.
“He played for the U23s away at Coventry the other night,” explained Wednesday boss, Darren Moore. “And Coventry put out a really strong XI.
“He performed really, really well – and sat up in the stands was the England U18s goalkeeping coach, and then he notified us that he was looking to call him up.”
But while it’s his first venture into international football, Hall has been impressing at Middlewood Road for some time now - to the extent that he’s even been working with the first team on occasion as he continues his development.
Moore added, “It’s a credit to Jack, he’s shown huge potential - even at 16 we’ve had him in working with us among the first team group and our goalkeeper coach, Adriano Basso - and also credit to Nicky Weaver and the academy team for doing the job that they’ve done.
“We feel that, in order to keep his progression going, going up against Lee Gregory, Saido Berahino, Florian Kamberi, Callum Paterson will do him good. I’ve certainly heard him say that they hit the ball harder here than in the academy!
“And that’ll help him get his angles right, his positioning right, his decision-making will be better, his feet will have to be quicker, and he’s dealing with the physicality that only comes with the first team. Being with us is something that can only benefit him in the coming years.”
That’s the plan, of course. To make him better. Because an England call-up at U18 level is just the next step in his progression – it’s not a case of ‘job done’, not for the player or for those tasked with helping him become the best that he can be.
But Wednesday’s academy chief, Steve Haslam, has nothing but praise for the young stopper, revealing that he’s always been a bit ‘ahead of the curve’ – ever since his arrival at the Wednesday academy.
He told Wednesday’s official website, “It’s fantastic recognition for Jack and his family… He has come right through the programme and has had a really good experience all the way.
“The coaches have put in a lot of work with him, but Jack and his family and have put an enormous amount of dedication into developing his game - so it’s fantastic recognition for him, his family and the club.
“He has always been ahead of the curve, in a way. I still remember him as a seven-year-old organising his defence from a corner which is really rare!”
“He has always shown high potential,” he went on. “But the life of a young footballer, it’s coming through that growth and maturation stage, which Jack is still in. He’s still growing, still developing physically and has started his scholarship really positively.
“He has kept clean sheets for the U18s, and they are top of the league at the minute. He’s also played a couple of times for the U23s and performed really well. Now he’s been called up for England - so many congratulations to Jack and his family.”
Wednesday have had international call-ups in the past, the likes of Cameron Dawson, Joe Wildsmith, George Hirst and others have represented England at youth level – and Hall has the benefit of having a mentor that’s been through exactly what he’s going through.
Haslam added, “Also a mention to the staff who have worked with him over a number of years – and in particular Nicky Weaver, who is our Head of Goalkeeping at the academy. He works with Jack on a daily basis and passes on his knowledge and experience.
“Nicky has been there, seen it and done it. He was a young goalkeeper who got picked for England youth teams, and played for Manchester City at a very young age.
“He has got the experience to know exactly what it’s about and it’s important Jack continues to have that desire to improve but yes, it’s credit to Nicky as well for the time he puts into coaching the goalkeepers.”
Hall has played a key role for Wednesday’s U18s as they marched to the top of table with 10 points from five games, and his battle with fellow 16-year-old – and Northern Ireland youth international – Charles Pierce is one that is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
This weekend the U18s face Crewe Alexandra as they return to league action, but fast forward a few days and he’ll be off to Marbella to battle it out with Ajax’s Charlie Setford and Max Thompson of Newcastle United for a spot in Ryan Garry’s team to face Norway on October 7th.
September was an exciting month for young Jack Hall, but October has the potential to be even better.