Rubin Colwill was a surprise name when Cymru manager Rob Page announced his squad for the recent Portugal training camp, but he became the headline-maker when the uncapped teenager was confirmed as part of the 26-man EURO 2020 squad on Sunday evening.
“The standard in training is unbelievable, but you have to reach for the stars,” explained the powerful midfielder. But while he may have been initially star-struck taking the the field with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, the talented Cardiff City teenager is keeping his feet firmly on the ground having earned his place in the squad on merit.
“He's been a breath of fresh air since he's come in,” explained Page following the squad announcement. “He really impressed me. He's got presence, he's got something we have not got in the middle of the park as well. He can play off the right, play as a 10 and he can play in midfield so that's a bonus when we were looking to pick a squad. He blew us all away with how he was and how he conducted himself. He's a top professional already and a great lad to have around the place.”
Speaking to the press from the team base last week, the Neath youngster was clearly embracing the opportunity presented to him. “It's been a bit crazy,” he said. “It's still a bit surreal. Each level it gets a bit quicker, so you've got to adjust how many touches you take, it's just a really good standard. The international game is a pinnacle of a player's career, it's what you dream of as a kid.”
Progressing through the ranks at Cardiff City after joining the club at the age of eight, the physically mature figure has impressed manager Mick McCarthy with his performances for the intermediate teams this season, and made his fist start for the club in the 2-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers back in April having made his debut against Coventry City from the substitutes bench earlier in the year.
"It's lovely to be able to bring them in,” explained McCarthy. “Especially when they are as talented and as gifted and as capable as he is, because he is all that. I thought he had a very good debut. I thought he started the game really well, set up the chance and he has worked and done everything I asked of him. There's certainly things he can improve on and he knows that, we are working with him. As far as a debut goes, it was excellent. And I'm delighted because he'll be a squad member next season.”
A student from the same school as Cymru defender Ben Davies, Colwill only made his Cymru U21 debut earlier in the year having previously impressed for the U17 squad, and he is the latest exciting prospect to emerge through the pathway system. “He’s a really good presence,” explained McCarthy after handing him his debut in February. “A big, powerful lad. But technically very good. And he looks like a bloke! I said to him today ‘you’ll be a big lad when you grow up’. He’s like a fella in the dressing room. I like him.”
But it is international football that Colwill is firmly-focused on at the moment, and training with the senior squad over the course of the last week has been something of a dream come true for the powerful midfielder. “They are players that I've watched and cheered on since I was a kid and at EURO 2016,” he added. “The standard is just unbelievable, so I'm definitely pinching myself. I've tried to take it in my stride and just do as well as I can everyday. They've all been great and encouraging in training and the morale in the camp is really good. I'm just buzzing to be selected and my family have been really supportive.”