Tug of glove for teen ace Jamie
GOALKEEPER Jamie Waite has continued his rapid rise up the football ladder.But an England Under-19 call-up could put the Coddenham-based teenager, already capped at senior level by Thailand, firmly on the spot.
By Mel Henderson
GOALKEEPER Jamie Waite has continued his rapid rise up the football ladder.
But an England Under-19 call-up could put the Coddenham-based teenager, already capped at senior level by Thailand, firmly on the spot.
D-day, when he decides which country he is going to represent, could be just around the corner.
Waite, on a professional contract with Rotherham United and not 18 until February next year, has been invited to an England Under-19 training get-together in July.
He said: "At first I was told I would have until I was 21 to make up my mind, but now I am hearing it could be a lot sooner than that.
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"If I did well in training with the Under-19 squad and they asked me to play a competitive game, I would have a big decision to make.
"Obviously, I have more chance of playing more games for Thailand, but if I progressed to play for England it would be a far bigger honour."
Waite became the second youngest senior international in world football when he played for Thailand, his mother's homeland, at the age of 15.
That was in a friendly international, which means he is still free to play for England - but once he represents his own homeland in a competitive game there will be no turning back.
Being selected for the forthcoming get-together at Bisham Abbey could open the door to bigger and better things.
He was under scrutiny by a number of senior clubs before landing a three-year deal at Millmoor just a few weeks ago.
"A lot has happened in a short space of time," he said. "I am one of the youngest professionals in the entire Football League and the under-19 recognition was a real bonus.
"I was looking forward to meeting up with Darren Bent of Ipswich, but now that he is with the under-21 squad in Italy I doubt if he'll be stepping down again.
"Darren and I are good friends. I rang him the other day in Italy and he is loving it over there."
Waite is also keen to put the record straight regarding a rumour that he and the Ipswich striker traded blows.
He said: "My girlfriend, Layla Burgess, used to go out with Darren and there is a rumour going around that we had a punch-up over her.
"It's total rubbish, but you never know what some people might believe. When I spoke to Darren he agreed it would be a good idea to tell the truth via the paper."
Waite is also friendly with Titus Bramble and, when the Newcastle defender is back in Suffolk, he takes him as far as Rotherham on his way back to Tyneside.
Millmoor boss Ronnie Moore expects Waite to force his way into the senior squad next term.
Ian Gray, the keeper who faced Ipswich towards the end of the season, has been released and fit-again Mike Pollitt will resume as first choice.
Waite added: "The manager has said he has faith in me. Even if he brings in an experienced keeper, he has told me I should be challenging him for a place on the bench.
"I was in the first team squad for the last three games, against Ipswich, Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest and that was a great experience. Of course I want more."