Midfielder reacts to news of international call-upMidfielder Matt Grimes described a call-up to the England Under-20 squad as the ‘icing on the cake’ after an extremely fruitful first full season as a professional.
19-year-old Grimes, from Exminster, was named earlier today amongst Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions squad for the friendly fixture against Romania. The game takes place at New Bucks Head, home of AFC Telford, on Friday 5th September (kick-off 7.30pm).
Along with goalkeeper Christy Pym, Grimes will link up with his fellow Under-20 teammates at St George’s Park on Sunday 31st August, the day after the Grecians face Northampton.
A year ago, the midfielder had only just made his pro debut – a 2-0 home win against AFC Wimbledon – after graduating from his Academy scholarship that summer. He went on to feature 37 times in his first year, and was named as the club’s Player of the Year for 2013/14 at the season’s end.
Grimes received the news of his call-up from manager Paul Tisdale on Monday, and admitted that he was a bit lost for words when he was told – and that the last 12 months have exceeded any expectations of his fledgling professional career.
“I didn’t really know what to say to be honest,” said Matt. “Obviously we know we have to look at Saturday’s game first and perform for that, and it’s something that won’t sink in until we get up [to St George’s Park] and meet the people we’ll be playing with for the next week.
“I never expected to play as many games as I did last year, and to be honest I didn’t expect to be such a key figure in the squad this year.
“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, and this caps off what an out-of-this-world year it was. I didn’t expect to be doing half the stuff that I have been and this is the icing on the cake really. It’s every young lad’s dream to play for your country.
“We have to focus on this Saturday against Northampton and then Mansfield, and the week between is an unbelievable experience that we want to learn a lot from and hopefully do well in.”
In particular, Grimes praised the role that Exeter City have had in allowing him to reach a stage where he has been considered for international duty.
He paid his thanks to the support network that have helped him live up to his potential from his coaches at the Academy, the first-team management, and his family for giving the sort of care that has helped his career blossom.
In particular it was City’s policy of youth, allowing he and Christy to play competitive football at a high level, which drew his highest praise.
“It’s massive for the coaches and our families for backing us and not letting the highs get us too high and not letting the lows get us too low,” continued Matt.
“I think it’s great what Tis, Mel [Gwinnett] and Rob [Edwards] last year did for us by getting us in the team and giving us the opportunities to play, and I think that is what has contributed to the call-up more than anything else.
“We’ve had the chance to play, with a good manager and a good backing staff.
“And it’s a great credit to the Academy and the staff there to bring such good young players through, and to the first-team management as well for looking to youth instead of looking to buy in players.
“They’ve been looking to bring players up and give them a chance that they deserve. That’s the biggest thing about the manager and staff – they’ve given us the chances that we need to make that step.”