Published 24 June 2022 7 min read
England

Ronnie Edwards' journey from playing grassroots football in Harlow to representing England at the U19 EUROs

Written by:

Ronnie Edwards

'I believe we can win the U19 EUROs not only because of the talent in the squad but also the hard work and the togetherness'
23 Jun 2022 2:21

Highlights: England MU19s 4-0 Serbia


See the goals and best of the action as the Young Lions make it two wins from two games at the U19 EURO

Playing in the U19s EUROs is one of the biggest competitions I have ever played in. We haven’t really got into any major finals at club level and to play for your country, in a big tournament like this, means it has to be one of the biggest.

I think we have a very good chance of winning it. I believe that not only because of the talent in the squad but also the hard work and that togetherness. We have a great bunch of lads and everything is positive around the camp.

I think the staff have played a big part in building that togetherness. We are always with each other, we are always spending time with different people, sharing rooms with different people and we are on the training pitch and the gym together all the time. There are also lots of things for us to do together, like pool, darts and watching Love Island!

I had a great season personally for Peterborough United but it ended in disappointment with relegation from the Championship
I had a great season personally for Peterborough United but it ended in disappointment with relegation from the Championship

On a personal level, this season has gone well for me, with me playing regularly in the Championship and establishing myself in the England Under-19 squad, but as a collective, we got relegated so that was disappointing. There were still a lot of positives for me to take away from the season personally though and now the focus is all on the EUROs and hopefully winning it.

Going back to the beginning, I grew up in Harlow in Essex and I used to mainly play football on a field called Sumners with my good friends. My brother plays football as well but because of the age gap we didn’t play loads together.

I started playing for my Sunday league team Sumners at six years old. Then just before going into the under-8s, we played in a Ware tournament where there were a lot of scouts and because I had a big involvement in the team, I got scouted by Barnet.

I couldn’t really then play for anyone else but if Sumners had a big tournament in the summer and I wasn’t playing for Barnet, I would sometimes go and play for them as I loved playing for the team and just playing football all the time. I probably did that until I was around 11.

I loved playing grassroots football with my friends
I loved playing grassroots football with my friends

I also played at school for Passmores Academy and we played in the nationals and the Essex Cup. We also played futsal and got to the final of a national cup as well. We were playing against proper futsal teams and we were the only school left in the competition, so we did well.

We had a pretty good team at school and I used to be the set-piece taker. I remember in the national cup, it was the last minute and I stuck a free-kick in the top bins. My teachers went nuts and everyone ran on the pitch. They were great memories.

I was a midfielder all of my life until the late stages of being at Barnet and then I went to Peterborough United as a centre-half. I think growing up as a midfielder has played a big part in me being able to play out from the back now.

Coaches have played a big part in my development but I also think it has to come from yourself. There was a time as an under-15 player where I got in my dad’s car and I wanted to stop playing football. I was playing up with the under-18s and around the first team at the time and I went on holiday in pre-season, because I was in year nine, and when I came back, I wasn’t even playing in the under-16 team. I just thought what chance have I got when there is a centre-half playing over me in midfield. 

There is a real sense of togetherness in the England Under-19s squad
There is a real sense of togetherness in the England Under-19s squad

I would say to my dad ‘what is going on?’ I would go for six games and would not even come on and my head just went. But it is down to your own belief and your own personality to say ‘you can do it’ and then from the under-16 season I have really pushed on and it has all been positive. 

I think those early days of football, you need to appreciate them the most. Of course, you enjoy football when you grow up but in the younger age groups, there is no pressure at all and you can just go out there and play with your mates with a smile on your face.

You can still try to do that now but there is less pressure when you are younger and it doesn’t matter what happens on the pitch.

When I look back to those early days, it was just excitement. I am not like it now but back in the day I was just running everywhere on the pitch and I would want to tackle everyone, I would want to score the goals and set up everyone. It was just the pure joy of playing football.

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