Stoke City under-23s keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu has been called up for the new Cameroon squad.
The 19-year-old, who is currently third choice behind Adam Davies and Jack Butland, had a grand day on Monday, keeping a clean sheet in a 4-0 under-23s whipping of Leeds United and being summoned for senior international duty.
He is named alongside captain Maxim Choupo-Moting in a 32-man squad for a training camp in Holland from October 5 to 13. There will be a friendly against Japan on October 9 as part of the warm-up for next year’s African Cup of Nations.
Noukeu joined Stoke in July 2019, having grown up in Belgium and qualifies for Cameroon through his family, winning an under-23s call-up last October.
“The Cameroon team has players playing for great teams,” he said in an interview for the Stoke website.
“It was a very good experience, and one I was sure would happen if I did well here at Stoke.
“The teammates there are like a family. Everybody tries to know everyone, and nobody is ever isolated; they really want to bring everyone together to grow in the same direction.
“Before I came to Stoke, I was not sure which country I wanted to play for, Belgium or Cameroon. But Cameroon called me first and I was really pleased that I ran-out for them.”
His father Patrice was a professional footballer, playing in midfield for Royal Excel Mouscron.
Noukeu Jr said: “Being my size, I shouldn’t be a goalkeeper originally, but when I started playing football I learnt more about the position. It’s true that my parents are a big influence on me and on my choice, but I didn’t want to be a goalkeeper to begin with.
“My first club was Royal Excel Mouscron and from under eight to under-10s level, I practised the basics. Then I went a year without playing football, before switching to another team in my town where I also learnt a lot.
“I moved back to Mouscron when I was 13 years old and stayed until I was 18. This was when I added professionalism to my game, picking up the small and practical details.
“I stayed with professional players to learn from them and spent more time at the club; I wanted be the first one in and the last one to leave – those things are really important.”
Michael O’Neill has a few goalkeepers to keep track on this season, including England under-21s’ Joe Bursik, who is on loan at Doncaster Rovers. There is Nathan Broome too, who was playing for England under-18s last season while on loan at Mickelover.
O’Neill said earlier in pre-season: “We had young Joe Bursik for the first start of pre-season before he went on loan to Doncaster and young Blondy who has been excellent. He’s been around the first team training since we came down from lockdown and before that even. He’s a really promising prospect as well.”