Fulham Under-18s’ highly-rated young defender, Liam Donnelly, said it was ‘an honour’ to represent Northern Ireland Under-21s for the first time on Tuesday night.
The 16-year-old was a second-half substitute in his country’s 2-0 friendly defeat against England at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, going up against a host of Barclays Premier League starlets.
“It was a brilliant experience and although I wasn’t on the field for too long, it was a moment I will never forget,” said Liam to fulhamfc.com. “To test myself against some of the England players was brilliant because they had some top players out there.
“England’s captain, Jordan Henderson, was part of the senior team at the 2012 European Championships, so some of them have played at the very top. There were a few other Liverpool players out there too and also Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea players – so I was in good company.
“At 16, I was a little surprised to be called up, but hopefully that shows that I’ve been doing well. It was an honour to be involved and a very proud personal moment.
“I’m really enjoying my time at Fulham, and the team has been doing well which is the main thing. I’ve settled in well since joining and I like to think that I have taken on the Academy’s philosophy.”
Donnelly joined Fulham last summer from IFA Premiership side Dungannon Swifts, despite interest from several other Premier League clubs. At right-back, he has impressed for Steve Wigley’s Under-18s with his athleticism, tenacity and ability on the ball.
“Liam came into the Academy over the summer and has really hit the ground running,” said Academy Director Huw Jennings. “He’s a calm, collected and very thoughtful individual who has impressed with his work ethic and dedication. We think very highly of Liam, and watching him take to the field against England was a proud moment not just for him, but the Academy too.”
Former Fulham midfielder Rodney McAree, who knows Liam from his Dungannon days, added: “As long as he listens to the good advice that he’s getting at Fulham and keeps working hard then he has a chance. Everyone at Dungannon Swifts and Dungannon United Youth are extremely proud of his progress so far.”