Most promising footballers make the breakthrough at club level and go on to receive an international call-up, but young Dons defender Jack Madelin may end up achieving his ambitions the other way round.
The centre back has been on Wales’s radar from a young age and now he's pushing to be a regular in Mark Robinson's under-18s side at Wimbledon.
“I’m off to Portugal in two weeks’ time for the European Qualifiers with the Welsh under-17s,” said Jack. “We’re playing against Portugal, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“It’s a huge honour to play for Wales and it’s something me and my whole family are extremely proud of. Hopefully I can continue to do well in the years to come. My mum is Welsh, she was born in Neath.
“I made my debut in April 2017 against Switzerland and have made 11 appearances in total now. My first and only goal was against the Republic of Ireland in a 2-2 draw in the Victory Shield last November. I wore the armband twice in our recent trip to Hungary, which was unbelievable and one of my highlights so far was a hard-fought 1-0 win over Russia at the start of this year.”
Having made great strides on the international stage with Wales, Jack is now eager to step-up his development at club level with the Academy’s under-18s squad.
“It’s been challenging, obviously a lot more physical,” said Jack. “You’re up against bigger boys and your mistakes can really cost you.
“Rob Tuvey (Lead Youth Phase Coach) was my coach previously, since he took over as under-16s coach nearly two years ago. I joined the club at the beginning of my under-13s season, so I’m now into my fifth season with the Dons.”
Jack was speaking after yesterday’s EFL Youth Alliance Cup game against league leaders Northampton at the training ground. Although the young Dons exited the competition following a 3-2 defeat, he’s bullish about Wimbledon’s chances of bouncing back quickly when the two sides meet again in a reverse fixture this Saturday morning.
“We’ll be raring to go, I’m sure the boys can’t wait to have another crack of the whip,” said Jack. “I’m 100 per-cent confident. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be the best team in the league. We’re miles better than them and as a team we’re confident that we are the best in the league. We believe that in ourselves.
“We’re gutted not to go through. We can take some positives from the game as I feel we were much better on the ball. It was just small lapses of concentration at the end of the day that cost us and we conceded three poor goals.”
Jack welcomed the return of defensive colleague Reuben Collins from injury. He appreciates the impact Reuben can make on the side with another FA Youth Cup campaign fast approaching.
“He’s a big character in the team and he’s been injured for the last couple of weeks,” said Jack. “We’ve managed without him, but seeing him come back on the pitch was good and it gave us a lift when things started to dip, so that’s a positive.”