A TALENTED Basildon schoolboy has made his international football debut just months after being released from a Premier League club over injury struggles.

Joe Orpwood, 14, has represented Northern Ireland Under-25s in a five-day tour in Belgium.

The teenager is currently at Woodlands School in Basildon and has been playing football since the age of four.

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Joe, who plays right-back, first played for his Basildon team Forest Glade before being picked up by a number of professional clubs.

Aged five he began training with West Ham United, Chelsea, and Southend United.

When Joe turned seven, he was then offered a contact at Tottenham Hotspur, a dream for him as a boyhood fan.

Joe was at Tottenham for almost eight years until September 2022. He was sadly released due to a long period of time out due to growth-related injuries.

Mum Terri Orpwood, said: “This was life-changing at the time. He was injured, not fit to play, and also without a club.

“It was a very difficult time for him.

“However, soon after he continued to play for his school, district, and county, and worked extremely hard to get his fitness back.”

And earlier this year Northern Ireland got back in contact with Joe due to his excellent reputation at Spurs and asked if he would represent them in an upcoming tournament.

The tournament was held in Belgium, and Northern Ireland U15s played three games where they secured one win, a draw and a loss.

Joe said: “Being released felt like the end of the world and made me question if I good enough or is this end of my dream. I am still so very grateful for all of the input from Tottenham over the years. 

“It was a privilege to be selected.

“I was so nervous not just because I didn’t know anyone and hadn’t met them before, but I still had the doubt in the back of my head, what if I am not good enough.

“When I premised well, and had been picked out by the coaches, the spark I thought I had lost came back, and I was buzzing.

“I now know I am good enough, and I will get back to where I deserve very soon. I am really excited to see what the future holds. My next step is to secure a new club and to look forward to more international duties.”