Published 31 May 2022 9 min read
England

Jarrod Bowen: Going from non-league to England seemed a million miles away

Written by:

Frank Smith

Jarrod Bowen discusses what it means to go from playing in the Football Conference with Hereford United to receiving his first England call-up

"Sometimes I sit back and look at where I have come from, especially now I am in the England camp, and without sounding big-headed, I have to take my hat off for where I have come from to get to where I am now."

When Jarrod Bowen was a 17-year-old playing for his local club Hereford United in what was the Football Conference, the thought of an England call-up seemed, in his words, a million miles away.

But this week, the forward’s superb performances for West Ham United have resulted in Bowen following in the footsteps of players like Jamie Vardy and Tyrone Mings in going from non-league football to an England call-up.

When asked if the possibility of playing for England had crossed his mind during his Hereford United days, Bowen acknowledged: “It seemed a million miles away. At the time I was playing Conference football for my local team and that was it.

“Obviously you have dreams but you don’t expect a kid from Hereford to get a move to Hull City [in the Premier League] in the first place, it was just me playing for my local team week-in, week-out in the Conference.

“Sometimes I sit back and look at where I have come from, especially now I am in the England camp, and without sounding big-headed, I have to take my hat off for where I have come from to get to where I am now.”

Jarrod Bowen was among the England players training at St. George's Park this week ahead of the Nations League matches
Jarrod Bowen was among the England players training at St. George's Park this week ahead of the Nations League matches

Bowen had trials at Aston Villa as a ten-year-old and then with Cardiff City six years later but both were to prove unsuccessful, meaning his breakthrough into senior football was to come at his local side Hereford United.

Peter Beadle was to prove a hugely influential figure in Bowen’s career, as he gave the youngster his first scholarship contract in 2013 and when the ex-Bristol Rovers striker was promoted to senior team manager, one of the first things he did was move a recently turned 17-year-old Bowen into the first team squad.

The teenager played a major role in helping keep Hereford United in the Football Conference but with the club on their way to being wound up, Bowen was allowed to leave The Bulls on a free transfer in the summer of 2014 after not being paid for several months.

West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers were among the sides keen to sign the 17-year-old but once again Beadle was to be pivotal, as he called one of his former players Tony Pennock, who was a first team coach at Hull City, and Bowen was on his way to the Premier League.

Bowen’s record of 54 goals in 131 appearances for Hull City earned him a move back to the Premier League when West Ham United paid a reported fee of more than £20 million and the forward’s remarkable rise has continued under David Moyes.

31 May 2022 11:04

Arrivals | Bowen links up with the England squad


The Three Lions players are back at St. George's Park

Bowen said: “When I was 17 playing for Hereford, you would look at Jamie Vardy and Tyrone Mings and those kind of players who did not come through the academy set-up and was playing in the top leagues and for their country.

“You don’t really think of it [an England call-up] in that sense, you just play your football, and if you are good enough and have that work ethic, then it will take you a long way.”

And for Bowen, that superb work rate and talent has taken him all the way to an England call-up.

England boss Gareth Southgate has acknowledged it would have come even sooner had it not been for injury and whilst the comments back in March were ‘a kick in the teeth’ for Bowen, it also gave the forward motivation to get back to his best.

Bowen stated he does not want to just come and go; he is determined to cement a place in Southgate’s squad in the coming months as we build towards this year’s World Cup. And whilst he respects it is his first Three Lions camp, he highlighted the importance of recognising he is there on merit.

“It is everything you dream of when you’re growing up and to get the call-up, obviously it is an honour and a privilege,” Bowen said.

And when asked about making this year’s World Cup, he said: “I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t dreamed about it. Everyone has a dream of playing for their country when they grow up. So to play in the best tournament is my dream.

“It is my first camp and I need to come in and show the manager and the coaches what I am about.”

Jarrod Bowen has joined his West Ham United team-mate Declan Rice in the England squad
Jarrod Bowen has joined his West Ham United team-mate Declan Rice in the England squad

He continued: “Everyone has a dream but England is another level to get to and I have done enough in the last two seasons to put my name in the contention for a call-up and I am delighted with it.”

With thousands of footballers playing in the National League or above, what is it about Bowen which has enabled him to make the step up from Hereford United to potentially making an England debut?

“I think with my appetite, I want it more than anyone,” he said. “I think that has been the message throughout my whole journey, starting at 16 years old.

“That hunger for the game, that love for the game and that work ethic. Talent gets you so far but hard work gets you even further.”

Following in the footsteps of players such as Vardy, Mings and the likes of Ian Wright before them, in going from non-league to England international, Bowen will be an inspiration to those plying their trade further down the footballing pyramid and he had some helpful advice to those hoping to do the same.

He said: “You don’t get loads of chances in the lower leagues but as soon as you get that chance, it is about taking it and showing that you are ready.” 

Bowen will be hoping he can do just that once again when he takes to the training pitches at St. George’s Park this week.

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