Academy. "I love the competition" - Emerson relishing UEFA Youth League finale

12 Dec 23

Johnny Emerson is hopeful Newcastle United Under-19s can end their involvement in this season's UEFA Youth League in strong fashion ahead of Wednesday's visit of AC Milan (kick-off 1pm GMT).

The Toon teenagers conclude their Group F campaign on Wednesday afternoon, hosting their Milan counterparts at Whitley Park, and target back-to-back victories following a 2-1 away win against Paris Saint-Germain last month, the club’s first ever victory in the competition.

Emerson, who has recorded a goal and two assists in his last three UEFA Youth League matches, is hopeful Newcastle’s under-19 side can round off their campaign in positive fashion against the Italian outfit, who claimed a 4-0 win in the reverse fixture against the young Magpies and occupy top spot in the group after scoring 13 goals in five fixtures.

The 18-year-old, a representative of Scotland at under-19 level, told “We’re really looking forward to trying to put everything into our last game in the UEFA Youth League. We’ve improved in every game and I think we were able to show what we can actually do (against PSG). To continue that on and finish strongly in the last game is the goal.

“These are the reasons you train everyday to play in these kinds of games. It’s a tournament you want to play in and where you want to test yourself against the best teams and players across Europe. It’s about showing what you can do on one of the biggest stages.

“We’re a lot more confident going into this game against Milan as we’re used to playing in these types of games now. Our first match was tough against a very good team in the heat. I think we’ll be a lot more concentrated on the game ahead and playing as well as we can this time and try to win."

Emerson reflected positively on United’s recent UEFA Youth League clash against PSG, with the Carlisle-born youngster netting the late winner which sealed maximum points in the French capital.

The left winger, who signed a full-time scholarship at Newcastle’s Academy in the summer of 2022, has relished his involvement in this season’s tournament and believes testing himself against the likes of Milan, PSG and Borussia Dortmund has only helped elevate his game further.

He added: “It was a good experience and a bit of relief because we felt like we were definitely on top for most of the game. For PSG to pull a goal back was hard but it was then good to win because we knew that we’d played well and had been improving every game. It was great to get a win in the tournament, our first in the club’s history.

“Playing in these matches has improved my game massively. It’s more about mentality and if you play well in these games, testing yourself against the best and doing well, you know you can go on and play at higher levels as well.

“I love the competition. I hate losing, even in training sessions and I want to win every game. It makes me want to work even harder and it drives me to try and play as well as I can."

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