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David Brooks: meet the latest youngster to reject England for Wales

Tuesday 3rd October 2017
Sheffield United's David Brooks is the latest teenage sensation to choose Wales over England. The Welsh fans should be very, very excited.
Brooks was the centre of controversy last summer when he pulled out of the Wales youth squad. Minutes after his exit was confirmed, he appeared in the English U19 Toulon Tournament side. Cue outrage from Welsh fans; most stemmed from a disappointment that their nation might be about to lose a future gem.

Brooks was in scintillating form during the competition - one where Wales were sent home despite being unbeaten - and won Player of the Tournament. Adding to his prestigious individual honour, the youngster won Man of the Match in the final and helped lead England to victory.

It appeared as though Brooks' dazzling displays would soon earn him call-ups into the U21 squads and beyond. Wales had lost a potential world-beater.

Or, had they?

For in August, Brooks swapped allegiance for the second time - a player can play for as many countries as he's eligible for at youth level, but cannot switch upon gaining a senior cap. He was called up to Robert Page's Welsh U21 squad for their upcoming European Championship Qualifier. Once again, Brooks shone and demonstrated why he has been singled out as one for the future.

Yet still many questioned whether Brooks would commit his long-term future to Wales. Had he linked up with Page's squad for simple experience, only to rejoin the English setup at a later date?

Such doubts were soon cast aside as Chris Coleman announced his squad for Wales' crunch qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland. David Brooks was selected.

It is a testament to the fantastic culture bred at Welsh youth-level that spots the brightest and best; while it also delivers excellent training, facilities and management that enables them to keep such talent. It is this nature that, without question, laid the foundations for Wales' current unprecedented success - most of the current first team having played together since the age of twelve/thirteen.
Brooks is just another example of many who have experienced both the Welsh and English set up before finally opting for Wales.

One only had to watch the Sheffield derby to realise Brooks' talent. In the most pressurised and hostile of environments, the youngster was mature, confident and exciting. His forward play for Sheffield United was also vibrant, creative and dangerous. His game has a raw edge to it and there's discernible potential for refinement - which could ensure that a quality and consistent player emerges in the future.

It was a young man who saved Wales' embarrassments against Austria and Moldova and it might be another young man next time around. Ben Woodburn was magical for Wales, and Brooks has the ability to replicate such moments. That is not the over-excited, optimistic and unrealistic assessment of a hyped fan, but a realistic and grounded interpretation of the skill this young midfielder possesses. If Woodburn can do it, so can Brooks.

The current Welsh squad now boasts some of the best young talents in the English leagues: Woodburn, Brooks and Ethan Ampadu - who is now at Chelsea after becoming Exeter City's youngest ever debutant.

Welsh fans should be allowed to indulge in excitement over David Brooks. They should be even more enthusiastic about the promising future of Welsh football.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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