Jordan James Has A Big Future Ahead For Wales

Jordan James Wales
Photo Credit: AP

Jordan James has been part of the revival that Championship side Birmingham have put together following a slow start to the season. The Blues won only one of their first seven matches of the new campaign in the second tier.

But out of all that, there was still some bright news for one of their players. Jordan James was called up to the Wales squad for the final UEFA Nations League fixtures in the autumn.

Having been pulled away from the Under-21 side in favour of duty with the senior squad, a place at the 2022 World Cup could beckon for the youngster.

Birmingham City Midfielder Receives A Call-Up

With no senior cap earned yet, James is still eligible to play for either Wales or England. He started at the youth level with Wales, including playing for their Under-18 side. But he then moved to the England Under-20 set up for a couple of matches in early 2022.

Then it was back to the Welsh side of the border for James, who was named in the Wales Under-21 squad against Austria back in September. But an injury in Rob Page’s senior squad to Joe Allen, saw the head coach call up the Birmingham midfielder to the top tier for the first time.

That was ahead of Wales’ last two Nations League fixtures of 2022. Those were a trip to Brussels against Belgium and then back at home against Poland. Wales lost both of those matches by a one-goal margin. The Nations League campaign ended in relegation for the Welsh. James didn’t get an appearance under his belt in either fixture.

But the call-up to the senior squad means that the youngster is clearly on the radar. There’s a chance that for James, who only turned 18 in the summer of 2022, a World Cup squad place could be his.

Meeting Gareth Bale

Jordan James Gareth Bale
FILE – Wales’ Gareth Bale reacts after the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Wales and Poland at the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

Welsh legend Gareth Bale was on hand to welcome James into the senior squad in the autumn. The five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid greeted James with a handshake and encouraging words.

James said of the meeting with Gareth Bale: “It was a bit mad seeing someone you’ve watched growing up on TV, being known as one of the best players in the world, come and talk to you. You’ve seen what he’s done for the country, and just for me being a part of that was something I’ve dreamed of. They’re the type of players you want to learn off.”

Youngster With A Bright Future

The development of Jordan James came with Birmingham City. He was part of a strong under-18 team that the Blues had. But as with the careers of most football players, there were some downs along with the ups along the way.

James is of smaller stature and that was something that Birmingham addressed. The club decided to play Jordan James with an age group beneath his own. That was to protect him physically, but all the while pushing his development at the club along.

More often than not you hear of talented youngsters going the other way. Of playing with youth teams above their current age grade. But overcoming the mental challenges of playing with younger players, James was keen to turn the chance into a big positive.

He now cites the move as being a catalyst for him being the player that he is today. The experience of not playing with his immediate peers allowed the midfielder to grow in confidence and stand out in the crowd. Which he did and it propelled him forward at Birmingham.

Birmingham City debut for James

The Jordan James Birmingham debut happened on November 2nd, 2021. He came on late in a league fixture against Bristol City as a 17-year-old. It was one of 20 appearances that he would earn at Birmingham City in the Championship under the head coach Lee Bowyer that season.

James earned his first start with the club in the same month. It was an impressive match by him too. James won a man of the match award for his performance in the middle of the pitch. He was also handed his first professional contract on that very same day.

Now Jordan James is a permanent fixture in the Birmingham City set up in the Championship. It’s good news for the club and good news for the player himself, which could lead him to the FIFA World Cup at such a young age.

Birmingham City On The Up?

After losing four of their first seven matches of the new Championships season, Birmingham have steadied the ship in the league. Their form at St Andrew’s has largely been the backbone of their recovery, with improved defensive output.

But the club still look as if they need to find another gear or two to push for a place in the Premier League. That’s the ultimate goal, of getting back to the top flight where their big rivals Aston Villa are.

The last time the Blues were in the top flight was in the 2010/11 season. They have been situated in the second tier ever since that drop. The Championship is arguably the most competitive division in the top four tiers of English football. Promotion from it does not come easily.

Last season BCFC found themselves at the wrong end of the table. The Blues finished fifth from the bottom of the table, as they took only two points from their final six matches of the season. So for Birmingham City, there is going to be a target of slow and steady progress. Future talents like James will help them.

Does St Andrews Have Another Academy Star?

The Blues are no strangers to superstar young talent. In 2020 Birmingham sold their academy product, Jude Bellingham to Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. That was a club record sale for the Midlands club.

That sale also made the England star the most expensive 17-year-old in the world at the time. It was an absolutely huge deal for the Blues. Do they have in James, a player who could follow in the giant footsteps of Bellingham?

His value is going up and is reputed to be around $2.20m in the transfer market at the moment. The central midfielder is under contract with Birmingham until the summer of 2025, so the club are likely to hold on to him for a while.

Small Heath Alliance

Earlier this year Birmingham City changed their name back to Small Heath Alliance. Why did Birmingham change their name? It was because of a marketing ploy by the club ahead of the final series of the hit show Peaky Blinders.

The show is set in the Small Heath area of Birmingham. So the club decided to rebrand themselves for one match, a Championship fixture against Huddersfield Town back in February. But there is a deeper link to all of this.

The club was founded as the Small Heath Alliance in 1875. When did the Small Heath Alliance become Birmingham City? That was in 1943, the club simply being known and Birmingham since 1905 before that.

As Small Heath Alliance, they participated in the inaugural Football League Second Division and became the first champions of that division.

Wales At The World Cup

It remains to be seen if Birmingham City will be represented by Jordan James at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Wales make their return to the big stage for just the second time in their history and their first since 1958.

In their inaugural 1958 campaign, Wales battled their way through to the Quarter Finals, where they were beaten 1-0 by Brazil. It means that Wales have a P5 W1 D3 L1 record in matches at the World Cup.

Wales had to come through a play-off qualification campaign to reach the 2022 Finals. They beat Austria 2-1 in March in the semi-finals. They then met Ukraine in the Play-Off Final. Wales won a tight match 1-0 when Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko diverted a Gareth Bale free-kick into his own net.

It was a tense conclusion, but Wales hung on to end a 64-year wait to return to the FIFA World Cup. At the tournament, Wales will compete in Group B against neighbours England, Iran and the United States. In the latest World Cup Football Betting Odds, Wales are the current second favourites behind rivals England to win Group B.

Will Jordan James Be On The Plane?

A place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup at just the age of 18 would cap a brilliant year for Jordan James. He has come a long way already in such a short amount of time. A place at the World Cup would just be another massive step forward for him, and Wales head coach Rob Page has already noticed him.

At the start of the 2022/23 campaign, taking a trip to the World Cup would not likely have been on the player’s radar. He was heading into just his first full season in the Championship with Birmingham after all.

If he does go, James will do so as an uncapped player as well. It would all pan out to be a remarkable story, getting onto the pitch alongside Welsh legends like Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and of course, Gareth Bale.