Cameron Humphreys may have been a late entrant into the City Academy system, but his talent is no secret to those who follow England’s youth set-up.
The defender, who hails from nearby Moston, made his England u17s bow while just 14 years old, and pulled on the captain’s armband for his country before reaching his 16th birthday.
After featuring once again for the Young Lions in an August tournament, he has been named as part of a competitive squad for the u17 European Qualifiers later this month, a feat he is particularly proud of.
“It’s always good to play for your country and I captained them once as well, which was amazing,” Cameron told mcfc.co.uk.
“It can be more difficult with England because the squad always changes, because people have different seasons and get called up at different times, so it’s hard to adjust to different styles of play all the time. I was really proud to be captain.”
The 16-year-old has had an unusual journey to the top, turning out for Blackburn and Oldham before arriving at City comparatively late in life, first pulling on a blue shirt at the age of 14.
He revealed: “I started playing football when I was in year 4 – about 8 or 9 – then I started playing for Moston Juniors. I then I got scouted for Blackburn when I was 11 but I left there and went back to Moston Juniors, was scouted again and went to Oldham, then I left Oldham after a year. After that, I got scouted by City and came here when I was about 14.
“I knew Aaron [Nemane] so it was easy to fit in quicker at City because I knew someone already there. I played against him when I was still playing Sunday League and in tournaments.”
Now a physical, pacey defender who is comfortable on the ball and accurate with a pass, Cameron started out life as a striker, and was playing in midfield when he first entered the City Academy doors.
However, by u15s his talent in the back line had been spotted, and the youngster now plies his trade on the centre or right of defence for an u18s team seeking to replicate last year’s North Division title success.
Strong performances and rapid development for club and country were rewarded with a two-year scholarship, signed in July, which the youngster cites as his greatest career achievement to date.
“It felt good to sign but also surreal,” Cameron admitted. “It shows that you can push on and get what you want if you carry on working hard.”
The change to full time from schoolboy football has been an easier transition for City’s latest cohort, who are the first to benefit from the St Bede’s programme, combining education with daily training.
But City’s new crop of scholars were thrown a new challenge with double training sessions in the baking heat of Croatia to ensure optimum preparation for the new term.
“At first it was tough,” said Humphreys. “During pre-season you have to work hard to get yourself fit enough for the season ahead. It’s not been too much of a change because we used to play football every day last year too, but the double sessions are hard. I’m really enjoying it though, it’s been good.
“Training can also be hard because everyone here at City is a very good player and everyone has different styles you have to adjust to.
“There are five centre backs in the squad so it keeps you on your toes, you have to work hard every day and do the best that you can.”
The England youth international had the chance to prove himself alongside the EDS squad while in Croatia, and acquitted himself well playing against those up to four years his senior.
Cameron revealed that watching alongside Patrick Vieira’s men motivates him to attain ever higher standards, but that the experience proved the pathways for progress are laid out at the club – providing the player is ready.
He said: “It was a really good experience because I’ve never played with them before. It’s good because you can see how the standard improves from u18 to the EDS and how high it is. It shows that you can do it, and there are opportunities to push up and play with the u21s.
“Watching the u21s play drives me because it shows you how good to you have to be to get there and do well at that level.”
However, the Manchester-born youngster is keen to continue the journey on his own terms, and explained: “I don’t really have any role models, I just try my best to be as good as I can be.”