Fin Herrick is set to make history over the next few weeks.
The shot-stopper will be part of England’s squad for the 2023 FIFA U17 World Cup finals in Indonesia, which runs across November and December.
In doing so, Herrick will become the first player from the Academy of Football to travel to the prestigious youth tournament. And it’s safe to say, he didn’t quite believe it when he got the news!
“I was told that stat the other day,” Herrick says, beaming with pride. “I never thought I’d ever be going to a World Cup.
“It’s a bit of history that I’m making. To be the first youth player [from West Ham] to go is special.
“But if I do get a chance to play, or even just in training, it’s about showing who I am and what I can do.”
Starting the campaign against New Caledonia on Saturday 11 November, Herrick will hope to follow in the footsteps of England’s U17 World Cup winners from 2017.
Six years ago, a squad that included Phil Foden, Emile Smith Rowe, Marc Guehi, Jadon Sancho, Morgan Gibbs-White and Callum Hudson-Odoi defeated Spain 5-2 in the final in India.
Herrick himself admits he will be nervous should he feature in the tournament, although he backs himself to get the job done.
“I trust myself and I know what I can do,” said the 17-year-old, with a clear confidence. “I’m quite enjoying the added pressure [of big games].
“Only three goalkeepers can go [to the World Cup], so while you’re all working hard to get whoever is playing ready for the game, you’re also pushing each other to be better. There’s healthy competition between us three ‘keepers.”
Herrick will battle Ted Curd, who is on loan from Chelsea at Isthmian League club Hashtag United – the brainchild of West Ham fan Spencer Owen – and Tommy Setford, who is with Dutch giants Ajax, for the starting place.
The Hammer has just two caps at U17 level, while Curd has seven and Setford has played 13 times and kept goal at the UEFA European U17 Championship finals in the summer, when England reached the quarter-finals before losing to France.
Competition has always been the way for Herrick, though. After first playing in Claret and Blue at the age of six, it has been quite the journey for Herrick. World Cup duty now awaits, but this is a player who has been impressing coaches at Chadwell Heath consistently over the past eleven years.
The last campaign was of course no different. A season that was perhaps his most successful. Or at least his favourite. FA Youth Cup winners, a league title, and a first professional contract mean 2022/23 will take some following.
However, Herrick spent most of the campaign watching on from the bench as his rival Mason Terry kept goal. The latter has now moved up to the U21 squad and is out on loan at Isthmian League club Concord Rangers.
“Mason [Terry] left me with a pretty hard task!” he says, on stepping up as No1 for Kevin Keen’s side this season. “He won most of the games and was in top form week in and week out.
"But I think we’re on the right path this season [to being back at levels of last year.] You’ve had that feeling of winning too, so it makes you want more of that.”
As it stands, the U18s sit fourth in the league title, with their FA Youth Cup defence set to start in December.
Of course, for Herrick a bit of time away from Chadwell Heath now awaits, as he jets off on international duty, although his focus remains the same every time he steps out onto a football pitch.
He wants to push on and reach the levels many think he is capable of. A World Cup would be the perfect place to showcase such talent.