OTBC profiles Academy defender Kyle Callan-McFadden
Most Norwich City fans will be more than familiar with the current crop of first team talent like Russ Martin and Grant Holt that give their all at Carrow Road week in, week out.
However every other Saturday at the Club’s Colney Training Centre, a new generation of City stars, under the watchful eyes of Neil Adams and Gary Holt, compete in the under-18s squad with the aim of one day emulating today’s Carrow Road heroes.
One of those young Canaries hoping to make an impression is Republic of Ireland youth international and tough-tackling central defender, Kyle Callan-McFadden.
The 17-year-old Donegal-born centre-half joined the Club at the start of last season, and is clear about what supporters can expect to see from him should they venture to Colney and support City’s young stars on a Saturday morning.
“If fans come to see me they can expect to see hard tackles, powerful heading, and a player that’s good with the ball at his feet,” said Callan-McFadden.
“I like to think of myself as a hard centre-back, a good leader in defence who gets in a few big tackles, and l also like to play a bit of football if I can too.”
Callan-McFadden has certainly displayed those qualities in his career so far for Club and country; culminating in the youngster being awarded the prestigious Under-17 International Player of the Year award by the Football Association of Ireland in 2011.
Despite captaining his country in UEFA U17 European Football Championship matches, the award still came as a surprise to Callan-McFadden.
He recounts: “It was amazing, such an honour. I knew I’d been nominated for it, because I came home from training one day and had six missed calls from my mum on my mobile.
“I thought something must have gone on, so I rang her back and she said I’d been nominated for Ireland’s Young Player of the Year. I’d been put up along with Sam Byrne of Man United, and Jack Grealish from Aston Villa.
“Sam Byrne played for the older age group lot of times, even though he’s my age, and I thought he would definitely win it.
“The ceremony we went to was at the RTE studio in Ireland, it was live on TV and the Ireland first team were all in front of me and everything!
“Shay Given, Seamus Coleman, and Shane Duffy were there, and they’re all from Donegal, which is my home town.
“Then at the front the announcer said ‘the winner is Kyle Callan-McFadden’. I was so shocked; I didn’t know what was happening. I stood up and Shay Given, Seamus Coleman, and Shane Duffy all stood, walked down to the front and started clapping me.
“I was absolutely buzzing. Then they interviewed me live on TV which was nerve-wracking. I was just hoping I didn’t trip down the steps!”
Representing the Republic of Ireland is certainly something the second-year scholar speaks of with great pride, and it’s an experience he is hoping can benefit his game back in Norwich.
He added: “I love it. I feel when I am with the Irish lads it’s like I’m back at home again.
“It’s good to get into the swing of things with Ireland, but all the work I’ve been doing there, that’s stuff I can bring into my game for Norwich too, and that really benefits me.
“I was in the Ireland squad for a year, and then I went on to under-17s where they gave me the captain’s armband because I hadn’t missed one Ireland match, and I was the most consistent player.
“We went into the Euros, so I was captain for the big Euros stages, and it was different class leading out my country.
“I’m just trying to impress all the time and keep going on both fronts.”
On the domestic scene, Callan-McFadden has started the under-18s season alongside first-year scholar Kevin Lokko in the heart of defence – a promising partnership that has performed well for Norwich in their opening three fixtures.
“We started off very well in Scotland during pre-season,” said Callan-McFadden.
“In the first two games we both played 90 minutes, bonded well, and struck up a good partnership.
“We stay in the same room too, so I’m finding that we’re striking up a good relationship and bringing that into games, so I really hope we can keep that going.
“I think we’re doing well in the under-18s, it’s just the results that we aren’t seeing quite yet, but the performances have been really good.
“Late goals have cost us, but as Neil Adams and Gary Holt have said, we impressed them with our performances, and hopefully the results will come.”
The Club’s embracing of the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) this season has seen the introduction of a new Barclays Under-21 Premier League, which has replaced the old reserve league format, and presents opportunities for young players like Callan-McFadden to further progress towards Chris Hughton’s first team.
Callan-McFadden had his first taste of under-21s action for Scott Marshall’s side against Reading on September 3, and the experience has only given him more desire to become a more regular feature in the team.
He said: “It’s huge motivation and nice to be involved with the under-21s.
“I’ve been training with the youth team and playing week in, week out for them, and travelling with the under-21s for cover.
“When I made my debut against Reading, Scott Marshall told me I impressed. So hopefully I can keep up my performance and get in there again.
“It’s great to work with coaches like Neil Adams and Scott Marshall - they’re both really good and I enjoy working with them because I know they can both help me get further along in my career.
“Everyone is properly motivated and going for it now, because we know that Chris Hughton takes a lot of interest in the youth team. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing really, and hopefully I can catch his eye sometime and get in the under-21s squad.”
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