Jamie breaks the Pele record
SOCCER: A Coddenham schoolboy is the second youngest senior soccer international in history – beating Pele by 291 days. Goalkeeper Jamie Waite, a pupil at Debenham School and whose mother is a Thai, played for Thailand against Singapore in front of 25,000 fans.
By Elvin King
A CODDENHAM schoolboy is the second youngest senior soccer international in history – beating Pele by 291 days.
Goalkeeper Jamie Waite, a pupil at Debenham School and whose mother is a Thai, played for Thailand against Singapore in front of 25,000 fans.
He was just 15 years and 354 days old when he came on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes in a match won 4-0 by Thailand. The legendary Pele was aged 16 years and 280 days when he made his debut for Brazil.
Former Aston Villa striker Peter Withe is the Thailand national coach and he has put Waite's name forward to the Guinness Book of Records.
The Evening Star can reveal that only one player has won an international cap earlier than Waite.
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Inter Milan striker Mohamed Kallon, who played against Ipswich Town in the UEFA Cup this season, was just 15 years and 192 days old when he made a goal-scoring debut for Sierra Leone against Congo in 1995.
Waite's spell in Thailand was a remarkable couple of weeks for the keeper who was associated briefly with Ipswich before joining the schoolboy ranks at Colchester United.
He moved on to Fulham but was later released.
Waite now plays for Ipswich Wanderers and was on the bench for their Jewson League Knock-Out Cup semi-final defeat at Dereham Town on Tuesday. He is a regular in the Wanderers youth team.
Waite was feted in front of his schoolmates by headmaster Michael Crawshaw at Debenham this week after returning from his fairytale trip.
"It was awesome," he said. "I never dreamt for a single moment that I would make the national side. I travelled out to play for the Under-17s."
Father John, a former Royal Navy heavyweight boxing champion who once fought Billy Walker in the quarter-finals of the National ABA championships, is married to Jitpirom who hails from Thailand.
"Jamie is half Thai and speaks the language fluently," said Waite senior, whose father Norman is a former vice chairman of Plymouth Argyle.
"Peter Withe is currently back in England and says that he will recommend Jamie to any English club. Jamie is set to join the Ipswich Wanderers PASE School of Excellence when he leaves school.
"He is very bright academically and we are hopeful he will obtain high GCSE grades. Whether he takes up a footballing career remains to be seen, and to be released by Fulham after they took him from Colchester was a blow. Whatever happens, Jamie is certainly a big star in Bangkok."
Waite is six foot, which gives him an advantage over most Thai keepers although the regular national custodian, Kittisak Rawangpa, is half-Chinese, and six foot four inches.
Waite was successful when he attended trials for the Thailand Under-17 side while on holiday last August. He was invited back this month and received special permission from his headmaster to take time off school.
He impressed Withe so much in a trial game that he was advanced straight into the first team squad. He came on against Singapore and made three blinding saves.
He then sat on the bench for remaining Kings Cup matches against Qatar and South Korea twice. Thailand lost the final 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Waite has already been selected for the under-23 Asian Games in October and asked to be available for World Under-21 Cup matches against Peru, Italy and Croatia this summer.
His mum, and his friend Andrea Burgess from Ipswich, both accompanied him to Bangkok this month and he was on television virtually every day.
"His mother was signing autographs 'Jamie's Mum'" added Waite senior. "Jamie is quite a celebrity in Thailand although we appreciate that it is not the same as making it big with a top football nation."
Waite junior's good looks have already brought him work as a model and he features regularly in advertisements in Thailand.