Men’s Team

Harwood-Bellis: I'm living every fan's dream!

DREAM? Harwood-Bellis discusses his elevation to first-team level
Taylor Harwood-Bellis says he is living every football fan’s dream after making his senior debut for City last month in the Carabao Cup.

The 17-year-old has been at the Club since the age of six and after impressing on the pre-season tour of Asia, he has been drafted into the first-team fold by Pep Guardiola, making his first senior start in the 3-0 win at Preston.

His elevation through the ranks has surprised the youngster, but he says he is enjoying every minute.

“It’s unreal,” he admitted. “To play for the club you’ve always supported, for every football fan out there, that’s what you want to do.

“Not just any old team. The one you’ve been at week in, week out. It’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I didn’t expect it. You have to have luck to get there. When I was told I’d be training with those players every day, no-one can describe how that feels.

“And then to get told I was playing a game for City, it’s obviously nerve-wracking – but when I got out there, it was just so exciting I really enjoyed it.”

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Harwood-Bellis looked calm and assured throughout the game at Preston playing alongside fellow academy graduate Eric Garcia.

Indeed, the pair complement each other particularly well, with Garcia an intelligent reader of the game and Harwood-Bellis a towering physical presence.

They provided a solid platform on which our array of creative players could build, with a comprehensive win seeing us through to the last-16.

And the away fans were in fine voice at Deepdale, something Harwood-Bellis says helped him through the experience.

It felt special,” he added. “Having the fans behind you…they make you feel more comfortable. There were so many of them.

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“The atmosphere…I tried to treat it like another game, but it was hard to do that!”

Just days after that game, Harwood-Bellis was caught on camera celebrating in the away end at Goodison Park as City ran out 3-1 winners.

There was a strong online reaction, with City fans praising the defender for his passion.

The centre-back says it was nothing out of the ordinary - but admits being recognised by City fans for the first time was a surreal experience.

“Going to the game and people recognising you…I’ve never had that before,” he admitted. “It was a surreal feeling.

“But when the game starts and feeling the emotion and wanting to win, that’ll never change.”

It can be a difficult task for City’s academy players to make the breakthrough into the first team given the quality of the players at Guardiola’s disposal.

City have world-class options in every position, meaning those who get the nod to join the first team must be seen as exceptional prospects. 

But with Garcia and Phil Foden also embedded within the first team on a day-to-day basis - and Foden regularly involved on matchday - Harwood-Bellis says there are opportunities for other young academy players, if they get the necessary luck along the way. 

“You do get the opportunities and when you do you have to take them,” he says.

“I got lucky with a few injuries that allowed me to move up from 18s to 23s, but when I got there, I had to take my chance and that creates other pathways.

“Play well that one chance you get, and it sets you up for plenty of other things that come with it.”

So, after a whirlwind few months, what’s his ambition now?

“Carry on training, make sure the manager knows I’m there, wanting to progress,” he says. “Learn, listen to what Pep says and hopefully get chances to play or be on the bench.”

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