The road from Academy football to first-team professional can often be a tortuous one, and the percentages of those who make it to elite level is still minuscule when set against the churn of youngsters at pro clubs year on year.
Occasionally, however, a young player will be so good that there is no doubt whatsoever that they’ll get right to the very top.
That certainly appears to be the case with Dean Henderson, who could now cement his place in goal with Man United if David De Gea doesn’t recover properly from an injury sustained during the Southampton game at the weekend.
“Dean representing Carlisle, that was the dream that we all had, myself, first-team goalkeeper coach Tony Caig and the head of youth Eric Kinder,” Ben Benson, Carlisle’s former head of academy goalkeeping, remembered, cited by the Daily Mail.
“So much so that we tied him down to a six-year contract. At under-11 we signed him until he was 16! That shows we knew we had an exceptional boy on our hands.
“He enjoyed the detail of goalkeeping, the intricacies of the position. He caught the goalkeeping bug.
“Even now we’ll meet up and he’ll want to go through this, have a look at this or ask ‘what do you think?’ That thirst for knowledge has never really left him.
“He was in the under 13s, playing a year up and we played Burnley. They were notoriously a fantastic team and the score was 12-0, something like that.
“Dean comes off, frustrated, angry, bit upset, only 12 years-old and I said “Dean what’s the matter I thought you did fantastic.” He said “I thought I should have done better with the sixth goal. I should have gone with my longest hand, my top hand” etc etc.
“He said “can we stay out and do some now?” We stayed back for another half hour, 40 minutes. All he wanted to do was recreate that goal, recreate that moment and get it right in his own mind and that’s one thing among other things that really sticks out.
“How driven he was and the ability to fail fast and fix fast. To correct and want to correct was massive for him.”
There’s every chance that Henderson could play for the Red Devils in their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain, and if he’s given a decent run in the team, there’s no recent why regular international honours won’t soon follow.