The past six months have a whirlwind for one of England Under-19s brightest stars, and as 2015 comes to an end Patrick Roberts is looking ahead to the next few years with great anticipation.
In May, 18-year-old Roberts was playing for Fulham and was on the wrong end of a 4-2 defeat by Norwich, as they ended the season 17th in the Championship.
Eighty-three days later he was playing against Real Madrid in front of 100,000 people.
England v Japan
International U19 Friendly
3pm Sunday 15 November 2015
Academy Stadium, Manchester
Click here for tickets
Roberts – a UEFA European Championship winner with England at Under-17 level – had been turning heads for some time, and in the summer secured a move to Manchester City.
Within days of putting pen to paper at the Etihad, he was on a plane with fellow new signing Fabian Delph and en route to Australia to join his new team-mates for their final International Champions Cup match – against the mighty Los Blancos.
“It was incredible,” he told TheFA.com. “The manager spoke to me before the game and told me I’d have a few minutes against them.
“Myself and Fabian had only just come off the flight England so it was only ever going to be a short amount of time on the pitch, but it was something I’ll never forget.
“There were about 100,000 fans inside the stadium, screaming and shouting. An unbelievable experience.”
Roberts – who has gone on to make three competitive appearances for the Citizens since that night in Melbourne – is currently with Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-19s as they prepare to take on Japan on Sunday.
The game will take place at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium – a venue Roberts already has first-hand experience of.
“Lots of people say it’s the best training complex they’ve ever seen – and that’s from people who have been training at elite facilities all over the world,” he continued.
“Obviously I’ve been to less, but I’d find it hard to disagree. It really is some place and the stadium itself is as good as any stadium around – so it will be a great place to host an England game.”
The Young Lions completed the qualifying phase of the UEFA U19s European Championship in style, top of a group containing Italy, Macedonia and Finland without conceding a goal.
As they wait to find out their opponents for the Elite Round – the final hurdle to reaching the finals in Germany in the summer of 2016 – they are keen to get as much as experience against challenging global opposition as possible.
Something, Roberts says, Japan will offer in abundance.
“I’ve played against Japanese teams at club level before, and they were fit and well-organised,” he added.
“I’m sure their national team will be no different, so we will have to be at our peaks – both technically and athletically – to ensure we get something from the game.
Should the Young Lions reach the finals in Germany – a place at the FIFA Under-20s World Cup could also beckon.
“Aidy showed us a few videos of past Under-20s World Cups,” Roberts continued.
“We saw how players like Paul Pogba and David Silva have all played there and done really well – and in Silva’s case gone on to win the main World Cup.
“That’s the aim for us all of course so looking ahead to the U20s can only be a great motivator for us all.”
England Under-19s play Japan in Manchester at 3pm on Sunday 15 November.
Tickets for the game with Japan cost just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Click here for more details.