Not many 18-year old’s turn up to work every day to play football with ex-England internationals and Premier League footballers and remain so grounded. Ted Jenks is not the average 18-year-old.
Despite the youngster spending so much time around adults with families and recently buying his own flat, Jenks still relies on his mum to help him out, which is a big part of him staying grounded. The midfielder explained he still goes home for dinner most nights to enjoy his mum’s cooking, “I try and cook a bit, I can do a little bit but I go home and have dinner and get my mum to cook.”
Jenks is thought of very highly at Brighton and Hove Albion, the club that he has been at since the age of ten. Even at the age of nine, Brighton noticed the midfielder’s potential, but Jenks waited a year until joining the academy, “Brighton wanted me when I was 9… and I said no I don’t want to do that, I like just playing with my mates on a Sunday.”
Ted’s love for football has allowed him to navigate through the pressure cooker of Premier League academy football. The youngster suffered a horrific ACL injury at just 16 years old, whilst playing for England and he attributes his humility to this, as it allowed him to find a release away from football, “Off the pitch you take a step back a little bit,” said Jenks.Embed from Getty Images
The number 47 has a successful lottery ticket in his hands, that millions of youngsters across the country would do anything for. However, this can be taken away in an instant.
Jenks explained that he has had to choose wisely from those around him, “To be fair, my best mates, well most of them are all at the club, I see them every day, we all kind of do the same thing, so it’s not like I’m left out, we’re all in the same position, so we all deal with it together. Jenks has to maintain discipline and work ethic that many teenagers would struggle with. Despite the obvious positives, the midfielder spends a lot of time away from family and friends. “The summer holidays are weird times, like end of May to June when all of your mates are at university so you’re done, but everyone else is still doing stuff,” Jenks explained.
Under manager Graham Potter, Ted has been increasingly integrated into the first team, training regularly with Brighton’s biggest stars. Jenks has been able to train and learn from players he has watched on television for years.Embed from Getty Images
When asked who he loves training with, Jenks stated, “Lallana obviously because he is a midfielder, I try to watch him as much as I can in training and listen to him. He is really helpful whenever I go up there.” Potter is essential to the youngster’s development and aspirations to play with the Brighton first team. The former Swansea manager is renowned for working with young players and has provided players like Ben White and Aaron Connolly with their debuts. “The gaffer is really, really good… he is really clever in how he works with players,” stated Jenks.
The highlight of Jenks’ short career came last season when he made his professional debut, starting in a youthful Brighton side in a defeat to Aston Villa at the Amex.
The midfielder held his own against Premier League regulars, such as Jack Grealish and John McGinn. The Scottish midfielder in particular impressed him, “I was trying to run around after John McGinn all game! Every time the ball came near him, he just ran, ran, ran… I was blowing after ten minutes.” Playing in front of almost 15,000 people at 17 is a unique experience and something Jenks and his teammates couldn’t get their heads around. The midfielder recalled, “We were all looking at each other, like are we really playing tomorrow??” The pure disbelief and shock that Jenks and the other academy players had, demonstrates how grateful young players are for the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.Embed from Getty Images
Jenks made another huge step in his career when he signed a new three-year deal with Brighton in July, keeping the midfielder at the club until 2022.
This was a deserved reward for Ted’s hard work and reminded him he is on the right path. Jenks said “It was a bit of relief, it felt nice. I had a bit of a celebration afterwards, as much as I could do at the time!” The young midfielder certainly doesn’t take the career he has in front of him for granted, keeping him grounded. He explained, “playing football with your mates every day for a job is a dream in itself and I’m lucky to be in that position.”Embed from Getty Images