WHILST most teenagers his age are picking out what they want for Christmas, Ratho’s Chris Hendrie is instead hoping his name is written on the wish lists of football scouts following his release from Livingston.
Since joining Hutchison Vale, the 17-year-old has been recently selected to represent Scotland’s U18s in the 2013 Centenary Shield – a big step towards catching the eye of potential employers.
Hendrie learned the news after the final trial held at Toryglen Regional Football Centre in Glasgow and will hope to start in the Scotland team’s opener against Northern Ireland on February 22.
With two months to go until he gets a chance to don the famous blue jersey, the Balerno High School pupil is prepared to work hard through the winter to realise his dream of representing his country.
“It is a great feeling to be selected, it really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Hendrie, who will be joined in the squad by Ratho teenager Callum Crane. “I was really nervous at the start of the trial but once I got my first challenge in it settled the nerves and I was able to assert myself.
“There were players there that I thought might have got in ahead of me but I am delighted the coaches chose to select me and I am determined not to let them down.
“It was a great boost midway through the season and it really puts me in the shop window because I am still at a boys’ club. I would like to be further up and this is a step towards that.
“If I work hard my natural ability will hopefully shine through and I am prepared to put the work in.
“Livingston picked just five out of a squad of 18 and I was one of the cut-backs. When I got released I thought that was me over but I decided to play Junior and that decision has been proved right.
“It is such a confidence boost and it will be the best feeling ever to put a Scotland shirt on in that first game against Northern Ireland. This is certainly my best day in football.”
Head coach Stewart Taylor, who has been involved with the Scottish youth set-up since 1991, reckons his latest troops have a great chance of repeating 2011’s successful campaign. He believes the likes of Hendrie will benefit from their taste of international football whether they lift the shield or not.
“It’s a huge and a very necessary facility that we offer with international schoolboy football,” said Taylor. “Some of these lads have probably had the opportunity to turn professional but they have already declined and stayed on at school, and we feel it’s only right that they get the chance to sample international football.
“I think it contributes vastly to their overall development, both as footballers and as young men as well, and the feedback we get from the boys historically has always been great.”
• Lloyds TSB Scotland, proud partner for the Scottish Schools’ FA, is delighted to support the Scotland U18 schoolboys squad for their 2013 Centenary Shield campaign.
For all the latest squad news, visit www.scottishfa.co.uk/ssfa