Young Brighton and Henfield goalkeeper makes Northern Ireland international debut

Conor Manderson. Picture by Emma Hancox
Conor Manderson. Picture by Emma Hancox

A Henfield footballer has been rewarded for his ‘hard work’ having made his international debut for Northern Ireland last week.

Goalkeeper Conor Manderson, 14, represented his country’s under-16 team in a 2-1 victory against Finland at Stangmore Park in Dungannon last Thursday.

The Year 10 Cardinal Newman pupil played the full 90 minutes and as a result has been selected to travel with the squad to Estonia in October.

As well being in his third season at Henfield under-15s, Manderson also plays for Brighton & Hove Albion’s elite team where he is coached by Owen Fisher.

That is how his international call-up came to fruition.

His proud mother, Jane, explained: “Whilst training at the Amex ground in Lancing, Conor got chatting to a couple of the coaches who were over on tour back in the spring.

“He mentioned that we have a large family in Northern Ireland and that’s how this opportunity came about really. They were impressed with Conor’s ability and invited him over.”

Manderson, who lives in Hove, has also been the subject of interest from Millwall as he looks to accomplish his dream of joining the full-time professional ranks later in life.

Jane added: “Conor displays huge potential as a goalkeeper and shows a strong presence between the sticks, he is an extremely hard worker and is passionate about football with rugby coming closely behind.

“I am extremely proud of Conor who has followed his dream and never allowed anything or anyone to deter him from this.”

“He has a great personality. People comment on Conor’s likeability and what a lovely boy he is wherever we go and if that and hard work were enough, he would achieve his dream no problem.”

Henfield under-15 manager Andy Smith added: “I am of course immensely proud of Conor’s achievements and there is something a long road of hard work and deserving story behind him achieving recognition by Northern Ireland.”