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Simon Jakab earns England Universities call up ahead of Home Nations

Team Sunderland Elite Athlete Simon Jakab has earned a spot in the England Universities squad ahead of this summer’s Home Nations.

Team Sunderland Elite Athlete Simon Jakab.

The 2023/24 squad will be in action for the first time on Tuesday, April 16, when Jakab will make the long trip down to face Wycombe Wanderers in a friendly, though it isn’t the first experience within the England setup for the MSc Psychology student after he impressed with a man of the match performance in the North v South game last year to earn the call up.

The Home Nations will return after a five-year hiatus in July, offering the Ashington defender the chance to prove his worth against international competition from both Scotland and Wales; but there was no guarantee of a place in the squad despite showcasing his talent last year.

“From a personal point of view, I expected myself to do really well,” said Jakab. “Externally one of the coaches came up to me and said he was expecting the same result as last year; meaning they expect me to be man of the match again. Obviously, you can’t just replicate it every year, but it adds a little bit of external pressure on things.

“Even though I was in the squad last year, I still wondered what if there was better competition this time around, so was still a little bit nervous. I just went in with confidence and thought: ‘I’m here for a reason, and I need to show what I can do; and hopefully make the squad.’”

English Universities Sport Tournament – Men’s Football. Men’s North Team takes on Men’s South Team in the North vs South Challenger Cup 2023 on Sunday, February 26, 2023 at the St Georges Park – Football Centre, Burton Upon Trent UK. Final Score 0 – 2. Men’s South Team won the Cup in the end, but an outstanding performance from both teams throughout the match.

Though the Hungarian-born defender is particularly familiar with Cameron Gascoigne from his time with Ashington this season, the main difference between club football and the England Universities’ camp is the time spent amongst the majority of the squad.

“It’s difficult because with club football we’re together every week, almost every week of the year, but with England Uni’s you only turn up a couple of times a year and you don’t really know each other; though you do make an effort to get to know each other, it’s still not the same.

“Even now, with having the first game next week I’ve spoken to three of the lads out of the 17 who are going down so it’s a different challenge going in and speaking to new lads and getting to know each other on the pitch.

“Last year when I went down, I didn’t really know anyone, I had heard of some people and played against them but I didn’t really know anyone personally. Whereas this year within the Northern squad we had around 10-15 of the lads who were there last year already, so it was good to go into a trial where there were familiar faces.

“I think with me already knowing some of the lads from last year, and then playing with them, such as Gascoigne, and against them; it does make things a little bit easier coming into this team.”