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Monday 08 Jul 2024
Hamilton and Glenfield are raring to go ahead of U19 Euros

Brendan Hamilton and Sam Glenfield can’t wait for the U19 Euros to begin.

The 2024 UEFA Under-19 Men’s European Championship is set to kick off in Northern Ireland next Monday (15 July).

And defender Hamilton and striker Glenfield say the excitement is building among the Northern Ireland players for a tournament that will showcase some of the best young players in European football.

The pair are expected to be in Northern Ireland Under-19s manager Gareth McAuley’s squad when it is announced later this week.

Hamilton says it is “genuinely hard to put into words” what it means for Northern Ireland to be hosting the eight-team tournament and for him hopefully to be a part of it.

And Glenfield insists: “Everyone is buzzing about the tournament and can’t wait to get going.”

Northern Ireland’s first game as hosts in the U19 Euros is against Ukraine at Larne’s Inver Park next Monday (7pm).

After that they have two more games in Group A - against Italy on 18 July in Larne (7pm) followed by Norway on 21 July at Seaview in Belfast (7pm). 

The aim for McAuley and his players is to progress out of the group and reach the semi-finals and final. The last four games are on Thursday 25 July at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, with the final on Sunday 28 July at the National Stadium.

Also vying for places in those latter stages of the tournament will be the four teams in Group B: Italy (the holders), Spain, Denmark and Turkiye.

“We believe in ourselves and we believe we can go the whole way,” said Hamilton, who is on the books of Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen these days. 

Hailing from Ardoyne in north Belfast, the defender’s footballing journey began at local club St Patrick’s, where his dad coached him, but he was soon on his way to Linfield.

As well as playing for Linfield’s youth teams for many years, he also attended the Irish FA JD Academy.

The 18-year-old said the academy was “a very positive experience”.

He admitted: “I probably did not appreciate the academy enough at the time, but now I realise how much it helped me.”

That help included learning how to live away from home and getting used to being coached and to go to training each day - and being in a full-time football environment.

Hamilton, who has earned six Under-19 caps to date and has also played for his country at U16 and U17 level, joined Aberdeen from the Blues after impressing for the Dons as a guest player in a youth tournament in Portugal where the likes of Benfica and Porto were participating as well as other top club teams from around the world.

Five of the teams competing at this summer’s U19 Euros will go on to represent Europe at the 2025 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Chile (four semi-finalists plus the winner of a play-off game between the teams finishing fifth and sixth overall).

Getting out of the group would represent success for Northern Ireland, according to the young defender, who also said qualifying for a World Cup would be “incredible”.

Sam Glenfield comes from the Cregagh estate in east Belfast. He remembers kicking a ball around a field with his dad when he was five or six. His first team was local side Cregagh Wanderers and from there he also joined Linfield.

He stayed with the Blues for five or six years before moving to Portadown. He was with the Ports for two seasons before he was snapped up by EFL League One side Fleetwood Town.

The 19-year-old striker, who has played for Northern Ireland atU16, U17, U18 and U19 level, has been progressing well on England’s West Coast. He plays regularly for Fleetwood’s academy and U21 teams and has also trained with the first team. 

He has promised to bring “lots of energy” if he gets the chance to play for his country at the U19 Euros.

He said: “It would be unreal to play in the tournament. I can’t wait to help the team out.

“I would urge our fans to come along and see what we are about. Hopefully we can put on a good show.”

To buy tickets to U19 Euros matches go to