More youth players should move abroad – Harrison

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Leeds United winger Jack Harrison says more youth players should think about moving abroad rather than staying in the English academy system.

The 23-year-old left Manchester United’s youth set-up aged 14 to study in the United States.

After a successful spell in high school and college soccer, he was signed by Major League Soccer side New York City where he played under Patrick Vieira.

“I would recommend people to do the same,” he said.

“It’s not just the football. You don’t get these types of opportunities in England. I have tried different sports, met people from all over the world and have travelled all across the US with football.

“Once I wrapped my head around the idea of going and ignored a lot of people that were saying a lot of bad things about going to the US to play football, it was a great decision for me.

Harrison impressed for New York City, playing alongside stars including Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, before he was transferred to their sister club Manchester City in 2017.

He has since had a loan spell at Middlesbrough and is now in his third season on loan at Leeds. So far this season, he has played seven times in the Premier League, scoring one goal.

He signed for New York after he was made the number one pick in the MLS SuperDraft in 2016, having been named the US high school national player of the year in 2015.

Viera praised his “footballing brain” and Villa said he was “something special”.external-link

He scored 14 goals in 59 MLS games at New York City.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Steve Crossman, Harrison said: “It was a real honour to play with those three [Lampard, Pirlo and Villa] and be coached by Vieira. I will always be grateful for that experience.

On Villa describing him as a special player, he said: “It was incredible. I was pinching myself when he said it.

“The first time we beat the New York Red Bulls, he scored the second goal and there’s a picture of him pointing to me at the fans.

“It’s unreal to have played with them and they are great people as well. I still speak to them now. Football is a small world and you can meet people from all over the world and stay in touch.”

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