IN a year of firsts for Caesarean Luke Harris, his recent call-up to the Wales senior side was especially emotional for one parent in particular.
As a Jerseyborn footballer the Fulham academy star could play for any one of the Home Nations, but he has decided to commit to Wales internationally – with the connection stemming from his father’s side of the family.
During his first interview since being selected for this week’s Nation League double header, which begins tonight in Belgium, the 17-year-old said: ‘I called them right after I got the news.
‘They were a bit emotional. My Dad’s side is Welsh and my Mum’s side is Irish, so it was just a very proud day.’
The forward represented the Dragons at under-17, U18 and U19 level, with his performances for both club and country grabbing the attention of the Wales selectors.
‘It’s a surreal feeling,’ he said.
‘All the players have made me feel so welcome and the staff have been lovely also.
‘I want to make a good impression. Not just on the staff, but the also the boys. I’m the sort of player who loves to get in the box and score and who will work hard for the team.
‘To make my senior debut would top off the week. It would be a very proud moment for me and my family, but I think it would also be an emotional moment.’
Harris has enjoyed a remarkable 2022, with the teenager appearing on Fulham’s bench on the opening day of the Premier League season against Liverpool before earning his senior debut for the club in their EFL Cup tie with Crawley Town.
The West London outfit offered him a first professional contract last week, tying the Jerseyman to the club until the summer of 2025.
Discussing the addition of Harris and fellow youngster Jordan James to his squad, Wales manager Rob Page said: ‘They’re playing competitive football at a top level – one in the Championship and one on the bench in the Premiership – so they’re used to this environment. They have trained really, really well and they don’t look out of depth at all.
‘What I’ve seen in [Harris] in games he’s played at U23 level is that he can score goals.When you’ve got a young Welsh player who’s talented on the bench in the Premiership, he’s doing something right.’
Page also hinted that this week is more about building for the future when it comes to Harris’ inclusion, rather than throwing him in at the deep end against the likes of Kevin De Bruyne.
He added: ‘There’s a long-term plan. If we drip feed them in now slowly, and give them a taste of international football, whenever the senior lads decide to quit international football it’s not too much of a gap.’