Gosport Borough youngster Jack Breed has returned to Privett Park full of confidence after performing on the international stage.
Breed appeared twice as a substitute for Gibraltar – against Armenia and Macedonia – in the Uefa Under-21 Championship.
The 18-year-old was born in Gibraltar, while his father was serving there in the Army.
He later moved to Britain when his parents returned.
The manager of the Gibraltar side is a friend of the family and knows all about Breed’s footballing prowess.
Breed was thrilled to get called up at the beginning of the month, having impressed on a training camp in May.
‘It was a fantastic experience – everything at that level is done very professionally,’ he said.
‘The build up to games is a lot more intense and the training is tough.
‘A lot of the planning is based on nutrition. The facilities and the pitches were also very good.
‘To beat Macedonia was a great experience because Gibraltar have not won many games.
‘We thoroughly deserved to win and were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Armenia. I am hoping to go back out next month and represent them at under-19 level and then be involved again when the under-21s resume in March.’
Breed, who is studying sports business and management at the University of Chichester, admits his international experience was totally different to life at Gosport Borough.
He is one of a number of youngsters who have been thrown in at the deep end of Southern League football this season, following the club’s National League South relegation.
Manager Mick Catlin believes Breed returned from Gibraltar with a spring in his step.
That showed in a few skifull touches against Banbury United in midweek.
Now Catlin hopes he will come out of his shell a bit more.
‘It is a steep learning curve with Gosport at the moment,’ he added.
‘Hopefully it will provide a good grounding and help me learn and develop my game.
‘I think it is a good league for me to be playing in and I am sure it will stand me in good stead.’
Catlin accepts it is a harsh environment for the youngsters but believes it will do them good in the long run.
‘What doesn’t kill them will make them stronger,’ he said.
‘In the last three games I have seen a number of the players starting to grow in confidence.’
On Tuesday, Gosport Borough visit title-challenging Slough Town.
They will then open their FA Trophy campaign against Bristol Manor Farm at Privett Park on Saturday.