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Published 29 February 2024 6 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Grassroots until 16, cement mixers in training and inspiring the next generation…My Journey with Jarrod Bowen

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Jarrod Bowen

Jarrod Bowen discusses his journey from playing grassroots football for Leominster Minors to becoming an England international

My first memories of football would be from my local club, Leominster Minors, when I was about four years old. Just the little goals where you are running around trying to kick a football as hard as possible.

My sister went through the ages playing there and so did my brother, so we all have a connection with the club.

I go back as much as I can. I was there not too long ago to supply some kit, which was nice because I know how important it is for the teams coming through.

Without sounding big-headed, I know the youngsters there see me almost as a role model because I played at the same park they're playing at and they have seen what I have gone on to do in my career. So it's nice for me to go back home and give back when I can.

I didn’t come up through a formal academy like most players, I was just playing grassroots football for Leominster Minors and then as I got older, I was playing for Hereford United at the same time.

So I played at Leominster Minors from the age of four right up until the under-16s, when I went to Hereford United full-time.

I was playing with a lot of my friends at my grassroots team, at school and at Hereford because it is not a massive area where you have loads of players to choose from. 

03 Jun 2022 16:47

First Impressions | Jarrod Bowen

Jarrod Bowen sits down with Josh Denzel following his first England call-up

I started playing for Hereford around the under-14 or under-15 level and we would have a little local league. Then there was the under-18s league where I played a year up with teams like Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle.

Everyone's football journey is different. You have a lot of players that have been in academies from a young age but there are also a lot of players that haven't been in the academy system and then got picked up along the way.

That was my situation and I'm sure there'll be many more players where it will be the same.

I think it is important for youngsters to see players with those journeys. I hate talking about myself like this but when people back home see what I have gone on to achieve, it probably gives them a bit more drive because they know it's achievable.

They can see the opportunities are out there and hopefully, they won’t give up on their dreams just because they haven’t been picked up by an academy yet. There are other avenues you can go down to ultimately make it in the game.

Because I come from quite a small area and you don't really hear many stories of people going on to play professional football, to be honest I never thought I was going to play professional football. I was always just playing football because I loved playing with my friends on a Saturday and a Sunday.

Jarrod Bowen loved his weekends playing Sunday league football for Leominster Minors and for Hereford United
Jarrod Bowen loved his weekends playing Sunday league football for Leominster Minors and for Hereford United

Of course, you have dreams, but you never think they're going to happen because you would never hear the stories.

Where I'm from back in Hereford, London was a million miles away so you never saw the clubs there. So it wasn’t because I wasn't good enough or anything like that, I just never thought it was going to happen.

I didn’t have the same academy experience and level of coaching maybe as other players but I had other things. When I was 16 at Hereford, I broke into the first team and had that dressing room experience with men in a league that really meant something; it meant something to win in a professional environment.

That definitely helped me when I was younger and got me ready for that changing room environment and what full-time football was like ultimately.

It comes back again to everyone has a different journey and ultimately it's about when you get that chance, you take it.

When I was at Hull City, I got my schedule for what I needed to do during the off-season. But where I am from there is a lot of countryside and my dad swears by this routine of training on potato fields and doing different things with wheelbarrows and cement mixers to train and work your body. 

The forward receiving his legacy cap from Gareth Southgate
The forward receiving his legacy cap from Gareth Southgate

Looking back, that has helped me from a young age because when I first went to Hull City, I had never had that full-time academy set-up, so I wasn't used to the day-to-day stuff like the different prep in the gym, all the stretching or the gym work because I never had those experiences growing up.

So when I first went to Hull, I struggled with it because my body wasn't probably quite ready for it so I needed to strengthen up. There are a lot of things you can do, like going into the gym and lifting loads of weights and running around the field but my dad has his ways that he thinks is the way to do it, I've done it, and it has paid off.

There is the running with wheelbarrows and cement mixers, flipping tractor tyres and running with the rollers you use to flatten pitches.

Obviously, when you are running on a potato field, you are not running as fast but then when you go back to the football pitch, you feel ten times quicker than you were before.

I started doing that work when I was 18 and I still do it every year. The fitness staff I work with are intrigued by it because it is different and I don’t think they had ever heard of anyone else doing it but I haven’t had an injury yet and it is working for me.

The West Ham United man continues to benefit from the advice of his father Sam Bowen
The West Ham United man continues to benefit from the advice of his father Sam Bowen

It prepares me for pre-season and helps with the protection of not getting injured. It has worked for me for however many years I've been a professional so I'll keep doing it until I retire.

My dad was in pest control and then became a self-employed landscaper until he broke his leg, then he has been doing some stuff for my agency since I have been at West Ham. As for my mum, she has been a teaching assistant for 20-plus years. She loves it and I don't think she'll be leaving that job any time soon because she loves her job so much.

It is similar to how I feel about my football. I had dreams as a young kid of playing football and now I am fulfilling those dreams week in, week out. So for me, it's just about enjoying it and playing with a smile on my face because if you're doing something that you love but you are not doing it with a smile on your face, then you're probably in the wrong job.

Of course, I have some personal goals in terms of playing, goals and assists but just the fact of playing football for a living is something I thought was a million miles away so I just enjoy every day as it comes.

When I think back to being that 14 or 15-year-old kid who hadn’t even played for Hereford yet, being a professional football was a million miles away. So becoming an England international was probably two million miles away!

Playing at the highest level and playing for my country were my two biggest dreams growing up but I never, ever actually thought I would achieve them.

Having England caps, coming into camp and receiving the call-ups, they are still as special as anything.

It brings you so much happiness and so much joy. I just want to keep doing it.

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