Tony Currie has outlined why George Long will return to Bramall Lane an even better professional after being selected to represent England at this summer’s FIFA under-20 World Cup.
Long, Sheffield United’s teenage goalkeeper, is the only League One player called-up by coach Peter Taylor squad for the prestigious tournament in Turkey.
Currie, who won 17 senior caps for his country during an illustrious career spanning nearly two decades and seven different clubs, told The Star: “Just being in that environment will accelerate George’s development.
“Being involved with the international set-up improves you in all sorts of different ways. And not just when it comes to football either.
“I remember how nervous I was when I first got called-up. There were people like Bobby Moore and Alan Ball in the squad - absolute legends - and I was worried about even checking into the hotel or walking into a room when they were there.
“But they took me under their wing and I came back feeling much more confident about myself and in my ability.
“I’m sure that’s what is going to happen to George too. He’ll be around people he’ll look up to and admire but then he’ll realise he’s there on merit.
“And because he’s a well-rounded lad, he’ll channel that confidence in the right way.”
Currie, who next month is the subject of an ‘Evening With’ in aid of the St Wilfrid’s Centre, made 378 appearances for United after leaving Watford in 1968. Having made his England debut against Northern Ireland four years later, the former midfielder is perfectly placed to comment on the challenges facing Long and the rest of Taylor’s charges ahead of Sunday’s Group E opener with Iraq.
Harry Maguire, Long’s United team mate, gained his first under-21 cap when the province visited Blackpool last term and Currie said: “Everyone at United should be proud of these two lads. I’m sure they are.
“The pair of them have been thrown in at the deep end and they’ve swum. I love seeing the young lads come through at United and we should also take pride in the fact our youth system produces players of this calibre.”
Tickets for Currie’s fundraiser, which takes place at Bramall Lane on July 12, are priced £20 and include a Q&A with the United ambassador.
“St Wilfrid’s is a wonderful cause which helps vulnerable people get back on their own two feet,” Currie said. “I’ve been involved with them for about 10 years, they do some smashing work and really deserve everyone’s support.”
*The ‘Evening with Tony Currie’ will be held in the Platinum Suite, Bramall Lane, on Friday 12 July at 7.30pm.
Tickets, priced £20, include a pie and peas meal, DVD showreel of Currie’s finest moments, interview with the United legend and also a question and answer session.
Tables of 10 are available for £200. For more information or to book, telephone 0114 255 5720.
Monies raised will be donated to the St Wilfrid’s Residential Fund which aims to fund the development of a live-in centre to work in conjunction with its day unit on Queens Road.