Meet the Aussie teen emerging at Watford


Teenage midfielder Jordan Harrison is out to make his name at Premier League club Watford and wants to represent Australia.

Harrison, who was born in Saudi Arabia but raised in Brisbane, has been courted by both Scotland and Football Federation Australia.

But the central midfielder, who has spent the past decade in England with the academies of Manchester City, Chelsea and Watford, has dreams of one day playing in the green and gold.

Harrison is eligible to represent several different countries, including Scotland, England, Australia and South Africa, because of his heritage.

He has been called up twice to Scotland Under-15 camps, was visited by Peter Cklamovski and almost made it into the Joeys’ Asian Cup squad.

Harrison remains focused on turning out for Australia.

“They were trying to get me into the squad for the Asian qualifiers,” Harrison told The World Game.

“They were trying to get me into the squad but it was a bit late notice, with all the paperwork… so I couldn’t get in. But definitely my chosen country is Australia.

“Former assistant Peter Cklamovski came and watched me at Chelsea. I’m keen to get on board.”

Harrison joined the Hornets last year, after signing from London rivals the Blues.

The 17-year-old is a first-year scholar with the club’s Under-18s and has already spent time training with Nigel Pearson’s senior side.

“It was tough at the start, I came on as a sub for the first three games,” he said.

“Then after that started every game. I scored on my debut, so that’s good. I’ve played a lot of minutes, so it’s going well so far.

“Watford's good for my development. I think there’s a good philosophy around the club with how they want to play, with the previous Spanish managers.

“The current manager likes to train with young players, he gets lots of the young boys to join in the first-team training sessions.

“He’s done really well since he came in. They’re in a good place now considering where they were at the start of the season. “

Harrison is currently sidelined and recovering from patella tendinopathy, an overuse injury affecting the knee.

With the season shut down because of the coronavirus, the former Brisbane Lions and Rochdale Rovers junior continues to train at home.

“I’m not allowed to run at the moment, so I’ve been on the bike every day,” he said.

“I’m just trying to do as much as I can. I was playing with the injury for about three months before I had to stop. It got too much. It was progressive.

“I just want to get back on the pitch now. I’m doing all the bits I can get to help my knee.”

Harrison left Queensland and moved to England at the age of nine with his family after being scouted by Stoke City.

He impressed at a camp hosted by the Potters on the Gold Coast and was invited for a trial.

“I used to attend loads of camps from overseas clubs,” he explained.

“One from Arsenal, another with Borussia Dortmund. I wanted to be at every single one. I was at a Stoke City one and there was 86 players there of all different ages.

“Then, at the end of the three days they said they would choose one player who impressed them the most to come to England to get a trial for six weeks. They chose me so yeah, it was crazy.

“I came over and I was at Stoke for a couple of weeks, then one of the games was against Manchester City and they really liked me. So I ended up signing with Manchester City. It was a journey I couldn’t predict.

“It was a case where I was so excited to play for a Premier League club. It was something I always dreamed of. I was willing to sacrifice anything to make it happen.

“I wasn’t fazed. I was more excited than fearful. I just really wanted to do it.”

Harrison spent 18 months with City before a move south to link with Chelsea.

“I joined Chelsea halfway through the Under-10s at Manchester City,” he said.

“My dad’s work got transferred, he’s an engineer, so we had to move to London. With the move I went from Manchester City to Chelsea.

“I had six and a half years a Chelsea - it was good, I learned a lot there. They have really good facilities, I gained a lot of knowledge there. I also learned about myself as well.

“I spent my childhood in Brisbane. But I say I grew up a lot in London. Croydon’s a difficult area, in terms of the things that you see.

“I probably experienced a lot of things that no one really at that age should have – it helped me grow up a lot. I learned the path of life not to go down. The focus of football took it away from me really.

“I’m grateful that happened. It was very different to Brisbane but it toughened me up a bit.”

A box-to-box midfielder, Harrison saw greater chances of future progression at Watford and decided to leave the Blues last year. Eventually the Australian wants to push into the senior set-up at Vicarage Road.

“It was a case where I felt like the opportunity at Watford was one that I couldn’t turn down really,” he admitted.

“It was just one I couldn’t turn down, with them playing so many young players with the first-team. I thought it would be really good to be closer to the men’s professional game. Leaving Chelsea has proven to be, so far, a good decision.

“I want break into the first-team sooner rather than later. I’m just trying to do what I can to get in regularly with the Under-23s and get more training sessions with the first-team, then just go from there. That’s all part of the plan.”