KEEPER CHRISTY GETS HIS TASTE OF LIFE WITH THE LIONS
Exeter teenager helps out England
HE’S the last line of defence for the side propping up the Football League. To make matters worse, the club this teenager has the pressure of playing in goal for is the club he’s supported and played for all his life. And the stadium? He lives opposite it.
Sometimes there feels like no escape. So international week could have been a period for quiet reflection, or a sizeable amount of sulking.
Not for Christy Pym, the much talked-about Exeter City prospect. Instead of stewing on City’s problems, he spent his time making his debut for his country and was even called up to train with England’s senior squad.
The Grecians' gloveman, 19, was working with Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling in the build-up to winning his first cap for the Three Lions' U20 side in the whitewash of Romania.
Not a bad few days’ work for a keeper who would have otherwise been thinking of how he’s going to be keeping his beloved club from slipping back into the Conference.
Pym, City’s player of the month for August, explained: “It’s fair to say it wasn’t your everyday experience, or your every day week, especially with Exeter not having the best time at the moment.
“While I was at St George’s Park preparing for the U20 game I was asked if I would help the senior squad out, you can imagine what my answer was! I was a little bit nervous as you would expect.
“But I had nothing to lose really, I was a kid up from Exeter City and they are obviously global stars and I was invited to help them out. You can’t really lose, what’s the point of worrying?
“I was working with Joe Hart for a time and helped with shooting practice as well. Trying to block shots from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling, I didn’t want to let in too many but at the same time I didn’t want to be keeping them all out!
“It was a bit different from what I am used to. As I expected they were all very, very good but nice as well – really welcoming.”
Training was probably more daunting for Pym than his first game for his country.
Introduced as a substitute for the final ten minutes of the 6-0 victory against Romania, he wasn’t alone. Exeter teammate and midfielder Matt Grimes set up England’s sixth as Aidy Boothroyd’s men ran riot in Telford. It was the former Watford manager’s first game, a perfect start.
“I didn’t have too much to do when I came on, but I’ll take a clean sheet on my international debut!” he added.
“It was a great experience to be involved. The whole week, being away at the team hotel and savouring the atmosphere of what it is like in international football.
“Having two team meetings every day and planning what you are doing with your time, it was a real eye opener. I’d love it to be the start of something regular but I am happy to take small steps.
“I haven’t actually received my England cap yet. The FA tell me it will be sent in the post in a few weeks. I’m sure my family have their eyes on it, but it’s something I am going to treasure for the rest of my life.”
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale is not currently enjoying his own ride. Pressure, unlike St James Park crowds, is starting to grow. Gates are down so much, City chiefs have slashed prices, but the natives are becoming noticeably restless – and some want the Football League’s longestserving manager gone after eight years.
“I’ve been involved with the club since the age of eight, so I understand the frustration at the results I really do,” Pym added.
“I grew up every day looking out of my window and seeing the stadium – I always wanted to play for the Grecians. That’s how close I am. I have always been football mad and always followed the club. I think that helps your foot
ball, but you do take it to heart when things aren’t going your way, as it’s your team.
“Some of my family support Manchester United, and I was in the crowd the day Exeter played them in the FA Cup. I’ve grown up watching the club, and I have seen for myself what Paul has done for us. He’s a great manager, and I know how hard he works.
“He’s given youth a chance, and that includes me. So I owe him and I’m determined to make sure we climb the table, we all are.
“We need to get that first win and kick on from there. Nobody is even thinking about a return to the Conference, it’s far too early for all that.We know we are good enough to stay in League Two.
“Torquay and Bristol Rovers went down last season, and we don’t want to go the same way. They’re local to us, so we know all about it. We’ve got to keep ourselves in the Football League and I’m sure we will.”
PROTEGE: Christy Pym playing for Exeter City