Imps prospect receives England call

Credit Graham Burrell

Young Imps keeper Sam Long has received a call to join up with FA England Head of Goalkeeping, Tim Dittmer at the England Men’s Goalkeeping Development Camp at St George’s Park.

The 18-year-old, who has spent the second half of the season as back up to Alex Palmer, has developed quickly since penning his first professional deal, so much so Michael Appleton allowed Ethan Ross to head out on loan to Weymouth. Now, the former Crystal Palace youth stopper will join up with other aspiring and exciting young keepers at the development camp, a huge honour for one of our youngsters.

“This is fantastic recognition for Sam and all of his hard work since joining us as a scholar two years ago,” Jez George told the club’s official site.

“It is also great credit to our Academy, the environment created within the First Team by Michael (Appleton) and all of the staff, but particularly our GK Coach, Steve Croudson, who has been pivotal in Sam’s development.  I should also mention Alex Palmer who has been a brilliant role model and influence.”

Credit Graham Burrell

Sam started his career at Crystal Palace but was rejected for being too small, as he told me earlier in the season.

“They predicted my height to be 5ft 10, which I’ve gone past now as I’m 6ft. It was tough being told by Palace I would be too small, but I also used it as motivation. I didn’t believe what they were saying, I didn’t think the height predictor was right, so I used it as motivation to push on.

Having spoken to Sam at length, it struck me what an intelligent and grounded young man he was, completely focused on his career. We spoke a little about the Apprentice of the Year award he won, and how he saw that as simply something to push on from, rather than an award to revel in.

“Winning the scholar of the year award was great, a proud moment for me, but I feel like I’ve kicked on since then. I took it as a positive, but also a sign of my progress and how I needed to keep going, keep working hard every day and get a pro contract.

“Since then, I have got the pro contract and I have the same outlook, just to keep working hard and progressing, every day.”

Well, I really hope he not only sees this as another huge step in his progression, but also something to take the time to enjoy for an evening because it is huge for him, and for the club.

His response on social media probably says it all, as you can see below! Good luck Sam.