Signing a new contract, a serious ankle injury and gaining his first involvement in the first team squad at Old Trafford – it has been a whirlwind 12 months for Young Socceroos goalkeeper Jordan Holmes.
The 19-year-old from Alfords Point enjoyed a rollercoaster season with English Premier League side AFC Bournemouth as the Cherries enjoyed their first ever season in England’s top flight in their proud 125-year history.
Holmes returned to the shire last week to see family and friends before he returns to England for training on July 2 and a potential pre-season tour of the US.
The Bangor Brumbies junior told The Leader it had been a season of highs and lows, with his biggest moment coming in the final game of the season when Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe named Holmes in his first Premier League squad – against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“I’d just finished training on the Thursday and [Bournemouth goalkeeper] Artur Boruc had a back pain. He was not feeling the best either and I thought I could stand a chance here,” he said.
“That afternoon the goalkeeping coach called me and said ‘get your head around that you’re on the bench against Man United on Sunday’.
“The gaffer [Howe] came up to me and said ‘you’re on the bench.’ It’s one of those games that if you come on and do well everyone remembers you. If you come on and do bad everyone remembers you for another reason.
“But it was an unbelievable experience and something I’ll always remember.”
That experience included meeting one of his heroes, United keeper David de Gea.
Holmes, a boyhood United fan, even has a standing agreement with the Spanish star to swap shirts the next time they play – because he wanted to keep his first Premier League shirt for his mum.
“I said to mum and dad when I got the call it was such a coincidence,” he said.
“It was the team I got up and watched every morning at 3am, now you’re there. It was crazy.
“I got the chance to speak to [de Gea]. It was unbelievable seeing him in person. He asked me how I was, he was a nice bloke. We were going to swap shirts but then I thought mum would want this one. He said next time we play I’ll give you my shirt. Hopefully he stays at United now.”
Holmes signed a new two-and-a-half year contract with Bournemouth in February.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing as an ankle injury threatened to derail his season.
A serious rupture of his ankle ligaments, suffered while warming up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, saw Holmes sidelined for four-and-a-half months.
But Holmes didn’t allow the setback to affect him, returning to training and signing his new deal before his final day call-up to the first team.
It stands to be a busy time for Holmes to start next season as he hopes to again be a part of the Young Socceroos squad that will compete at the AFC under-19s championship in Bahrain in October.
Australia have been drawn in group D alongside China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with the top four teams qualifying for the under-20s World Cup in South Korea next year.
Holmes said some time on the pitch with the first team in pre-season was an immediate goal before hoping to prove himself out on loan next season.
“I’d love to have a part in pre-season,” he said.
“A few minutes under my belt with the first team. A good run with the Young Socceroos [and] qualifying for the World Cup would be amazing.
“I want to stay injury free. If I can go out on loan somewhere in the lower divisions and prove to the gaffer I can handle men’s football.
“As a young kid it’s a chance to get experience there and learn from players who have been in the game for 10 or 15 years.
“I can’t wait for an opportunity and if I get it I’m going to make sure I take it and don’t let go.”