New Zealand goalkeeper Jamie Searle has made his debut in the English Football League with League One club Barnsley.
The 21-year-old All White came off the bench after starting goalkeeper Brad Collins was injured in the 59th minute of Barnsley’s came at Cambridge United.
Leading 1-0, Barnsley then went down to 10 men but Searle helped keep his team’s clean sheet and they pulled off an unlikely 3-0 win.
For 6′ 6″ Searle, the match appearance was his breakthrough after spells with Aston Villa and Swansea City where he was unable to break into the first team.
Speaking to Barnsley’s website, Searle said:
“It’s not the way I wanted to make my debut, but it’s happened and you’ve just got to get on with it.
“It’s hard when you’re sitting on the bench. You do switch off a little bit, but you’re still engaged in the game, watching what is happening, how they’re playing.
“As soon as something like that happens you don’t really get time to think, which is the main thing. You’re just thrown in at the deep end which is what I prefer. I don’t think. When I don’t think, I seem to do better.
“Essentially I’ve got to go out there and do what I do every day
“We work every single day to have these opportunities and when they come around you’ve got to take them.”
Searle’s performance drew praise from Barnsley captain Mars Andersen.
“He did very well. It’s not an easy situation to come into. So yes, I’m happy for him.”
Searle’s journey to Barnsley
By joining Barnsley, Searle has followed in the footsteps of other All Whites including Colin Walker, Chris Wood, Rory Fallon and Leo Bertos.
Searle, who played for the OlyWhites at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and made his full New Zealand international debut in March, joined the Yorkshire club on July 1.
Barnsley were relegated from the English Championship last season, finishing bottom and conceding 73 goals in their 46 games.
Barnsley is Searle’s third professional club after stints with Aston Villa and Swansea City since heading overseas in 2019 from New Zealand where he played for Whakatane Town and Waikato clubs Melville United and, briefly, Cambridge.
Searle credited Melville coach Sam Wilkinson with kick-starting his professional career.
“I had a coach out in New Zealand, Sam Wilkinson, who mentioned the possibility of going over to the UK after school.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school. He said he’d get me a few trials out there, one being Aston Villa, which was my first club. It all took off from there really.”
Barnsley’s goalkeeping coach, Tom Fawdry, spent time in New Zealand and Australia, so he and Searle already have things in common.
“I hadn’t met Tom before,” Searle said. “But speaking to him, we know a lot of the same people. He’s played with players I’ve played with, he knows a lot of the same people.
“There’s definitely that connection of back home.”