It has been a landmark 12 months for England youth international Will Patching.
Shortly after turning 16, the central midfielder was celebrating his first decade as a City player, and he topped it off in style by signing a two year scholarship at the club that has nurtured his development on and off the field since infant school.
A local lad who hails from Stockport, Will was spotted in his extreme youth playing for local side Cheadle and Gatley, a fertile breeding ground that has also spawned the likes of EDS midfielder George Evans.
Will told mcfc.co.uk: “I started off at Cheadle and Gatley when I was five years old, got picked up by City when I was six, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been a good ten years, but hopefully I’ve got a lot more to come.”
A coveted two year scholarship was signed in July 2015, but he knows it signals the start of even harder work if he is to reach the next step on an increasingly steep slope to the top.
Added Will: “My Mum and Dad were really proud of me, but I knew it meant I would have to work even harder to be offered a pro contract, which is my next aim and hopefully I will achieve that.
“I was with my parents when I found out, but my Grandma and Grandad are really supportive of me so I called them as soon as I got out and told them the good news.
“It’s amazing to hear one of the best teams in the world believes in me and knows what I am capable of. It gives me confidence to go and achieve what I have wanted to do more than anything in the world.”
A technically gifted youngster who has a sharp eye for a pass, the 16-year-old has excelled in the no.10 role this term, picking out his colleagues while also given licence to dribble and shoot.
Schooled in the City philosophy throughout his time in the Academy, Will was quick to point to the immense show of faith the club has placed in the youth system, evident by a quick glance around the world class facilities at the City Football Academy or a look at the number of younger players named in Manuel Pellegrini’s squad list for the pre-season tour of Australia and Vietnam.
Patching said: “We saw a lot of young players go with the first team on tour this summer and that gives us huge encouragement that we can get there.
“In a way, you kind of say that if you reach the u18s you aren’t that far off, but in another way you know there is a long way to go. We’ve only got the u21s to go now and then it is the first team, but there are a lot of things you need to do to get to the first team – especially with the quality of the players we’ve got.
“As everyone knows we recently moved to the CFA and the facilities there are just incredible. Playing there, we see every day how much money has been put into making us better players, so hopefully we can give something back.”
Will’s prodigious talents are no secret to followers of the national team youth set up – he won his first England cap nearly two years’ ago and is currently away with the u18s age group in Holland.
Although achievements at club level have opened the door for national recognition, the youngster cites pulling on the Three Lions shirt as his proudest achievement to date.
“I’ve had around 20 caps for England and that’s something I’m really proud of,” he admitted.
“When you go away with England, you get to see what other players are like all over the world. You get to travel to all these different countries, and play different teams from other cultures, see the different styles and see how they are progressing.
“At the first camp we went to there were six or seven City players there and that was the most of any team, so it shows that City are doing things the right way and producing the players that people want to play for England and in the Premier League.”
For this season though, his ambitions lie on the domestic stage.
Declared Will: “I want to get as near to the u21s squad as I can. Hopefully I can even get into it by the end of the season and play a few games. With the u18s it’s simple really – to try and win the league, progress in the FA Youth Cup and hopefully go one step further than they did last year and actually win it.”
60 seconds with Will…
Favourite Childhood superhero?
Probably Superman – he’s the only one I really watched…
If you could have one superpower, which would you choose?
To be invisible, definitely.
If you could be anyone in the world for 24 hours…?
Lionel Messi, to see what it’s like to be the best footballer in the world.
Country you’d most like to visit?
I’ve never been to Australia and I’d like to go there one day.
Last film watched?
Pickpocket – it was alright, not the best though!
Guilty music pleasure?
If you weren’t a footballer, what would you do?
God knows! I think I’d like to do something involved in sport, don’t know what else I’m good at though to be honest…
Your first footballing hero?
Who is your roommate, and what annoys you about him?
I room with Sadou Diallo and nothing annoys me really, he’s got OCD so he just tidies the room all the time!