Young Hatter Ed McJannet reflected on his ‘brilliant’ experience with the Under 18/19 Ireland squad as part of the EFL’s Youth Development Week.
Over the course of the week, the EFL will be highlighting particular successes of players that have come through EFL Academy pathways and having recently embarked on his first international adventure, we spoke to Ed about his time away with the young Irish squad, how he reflects on the past season and signing his first development contract with the club.
Firstly, all talk was about his recent time away with Ireland and he credits the club for making his dream a reality. McJannet revealed that after hearing he would be part of the training camp at Loughborough University, he was ‘over the moon!’
“The Loughborough camp was brilliant and then to be called over to Ireland as well was phenomenal and an incredible achievement that I have to thank the club, staff and players for helping. The Loughborough camp was from the May 17th to May 20th and it was just training and then an internal game on the final day which was really good.
“The camp in Ireland was a bit longer (June 4th to June 8th) and we trained, had another internal game but we also had a game against an Irish side called UCD. We played at the FAI HQ which was brilliant and a really good experience. I thought it went really well at both camps, I really enjoyed it and it was a great experience.”
The respective call-ups cap an impressive campaign for the St Albans-based youngster, who signed his first development contract with the club on his 17th birthday in January.
“Ever since I joined the club, I was dreaming of signing that contract and to do that was amazing to be fair. I have loved the club ever since I was a kid, and it has been brilliant. I have some great memories at this club from under 8s to now. I am very grateful for the opportunity and it has been a really good season for the club and myself.
“It has been really enjoyable, I’m grateful to have played with the U21s and the youth team as well, it has been amazing really.”
One of the matches McJannet was selected to feature in was the thrilling FA Youth Cup match against West Ham, when the Hatters took their Category 1 opponents all the way to a penalty shoot-out.
"Playing at Kenilworth Road was amazing. I have played there a few times as well as against West Ham. It was a great experience, it was a good game and we were unlucky not to go through.
“We gave them a really good game, took them all the way to penalties and the atmosphere, the feeling of playing in the stadium was brilliant. It is always going to be tough playing West Ham because they are such a big club, but I thought we gave them a good game and we were unlucky not to go through.”
Throughout the course of the season, the attacking midfielder has learned a lot from older role models such as Dion Pereira, who made his first team debut on the final day of the season against Queens Park Rangers.
“The first team are always good with the younger lads, I haven’t really spoken to many of them but Dion Pereira for example, he was playing in the U21s until he moved into the first team.
“He’s been a good role model and has shown that there are opportunities to go over there and if you do well, you will make your debut as he did. There are lots of good role models and some of the older lads in the U21s are great, Corey (Panter), Josh (Neufville), Jake (Peck), TQ (Addy), all of the lads are really good role models.”
Also mentioned was James Justin, a player that came through the ranks at Luton Town and is now plying his trade with FA Cup winners Leicester City, the reason such development weeks hold so much importance to the EFL.
“I remember watching JJ when he was at Luton, he has gone on to do so well and what a player he is. It makes you feel like anything is possible and he is such a good role model, a fantastic player as well."
Finally, McJannet finished by saying: “The goal is to try and play for the first team, that is the ambition and that is the goal. Hopefully I can do so, if you work hard enough, anything is possible.”