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Under-18s

Feature: Stevens has Euro-vision with Wales after impressive comeback from injury

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Charlie Stevens believes his journey to this summer’s European Under-17 Championship is a reward for the hard yards he has put in behind the scenes this season.

Plagued by a back injury for the around five months of the campaign, the midfielder was left on the sidelines, unable to feature in match action from October through to February.

But having put in the work alongside the Cherries’ medical and coaching staff, the Poole-born youngster admitted he was ecstatic when he earned his place on the plane to Cyprus for the tournament as part of the Wales squad.

“I was just buzzing. My mum got an email and she let me know,” he told afcb.co.uk, when asked about his call-up.

“It’s been a tough season for me with injuries, particularly at the beginning, so this seems like the perfect end to it really.

“I found out in October time that I’d had two stress fractures in my lower back, which kept me out for five or six months.

“That was a big hit to the season, so this just seems like the perfect way to round it off really.

“I started to get back into little bits with the team in January but through postponements of games, I didn’t properly get back into games until February time.

“Since then, I’ve got a good run of games, I’m getting the minutes in and I’ve managed to prove myself to get selected, which is great.”

Stevens scored the opener as James Lowy’s side finished their Professional Development League season with a 2-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday.

Now, he is set to turn his attentions to Wales’s group games against Croatia, Austria and Denmark – alongside his Cherries teammate Josh Salmon, who has also been selected.  

Wales’ first game comes against Denmark on Monday, May 20th, at Dasaki Achnas Stadium (6pm kick-off).

“Three of my four grandparents are fully Welsh,” explained Stevens.

“From about under-13s I have been involved in the regional camps and then it steps up in under-15s to the national camps and we start to play games.

“The big one in under-16s is the Victory Shield, then mostly building up to the Euros. The lads have had two qualifying camps to this point, which I missed out on – so it’s really good to be selected for this.

“To go to a big tournament like the Euros is a really proud moment for me and my family and I feel like a reward for my hard work this season, getting back from my injury.

“The proudest moments of my life are singing the anthem. You just feel so strong when you are singing it and so strong as a team.

“We have got a great bond, all together and I’m sure we can go to the Euros and make a big statement.”

Stevens, who has been on the books with the Cherries since under-8s level, was also keen to thank everyone at the club who had made his comeback possible in time for the tournament.

He said: “The players and the staff, the support they showed me in every department helped me stay strong and get back as well as I can.

“From the coaching side, the medical side, the analysis side, sort of all coming together to make sure I am back firing and have a good end to the season.

“Representing the under-18s, that’s a team you almost look up to when you are in the younger age groups. I am really proud that I have played for the under-18s and proved myself to get selected to the national team.

“I have been a Cherries fan my whole life. I go to all the home games, aways when we can. It’s been Bournemouth my whole life and I'm really proud being here.”

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