Called-up from school and Emile’s advice – Inside Jaden and Reigan Heskey’s ‘surreal’ Man City U19s debut together

Reigan, 15, is the son of former Liverpool and England striker Emile, who was in the stands at the Joie Stadium to see two of his children line up for City for the first time. Older brother Jaden, 17, has stepped up for the academy this season, and led the line against Young Boys with Reigan on the wing.

“I&aposve never played with him before so it was the first time,” Jaden told MEN Sport after the 3-0 win with a smile. “He&aposs always been two years below me so he&aposs stayed with his age group. For him to play with me today was surreal.”

Jaden has five goals to his name so far this season between under-18 and under-21 level, while Reigan had never played above under-16s until this week. With injury and fitness issues restricting Brian Barry-Murphy&aposs selection against Young Boys, it was Reigan who got the call to take his chance at the Joie Stadium.

Within eight minutes Reigan had won a penalty – which he stepped up to score – and by halftime, he had won a free-kick that Mo Susoho converted from a tight angle, and played Tom Galvez into the box to assist Matthew Henderson-Hall. In first-half injury time, he went down with cramp, and wouldn&apost emerge for the second period.

As debuts go, it wasn&apost a bad first 45 minutes for the youth team, and Barry-Murphy explained why it was Heskey who was selected to step up from the under-16s.

“We&aposre synonymous with players in those wide positions that at this club have to be able to beat players one-vs-one and create situations you can win the game from,” he said. “Reigan&aposs got all those qualities every single game I&aposve seen him. There&aposs other parts of his game he naturally has to work on.

“You saw a glimpse of what he can do first half when he beat the player, direct against his opponent one-vs-one, and produced an assist and was dangerous for the penalty. He&aposs a highly talented player – who obviously has a lot of things to work on – but it was good to see him play so well in his first game.”

It was a squad effort to ensure that the youngster&aposs debut was as comfortable as possible. Defender Jahmai Simpson-Pusey insisted that the younger Heskey brother took the penalty that he won, with Barry-Murphy keen to take the pressure of older brother Jaden by tasking Galvez and Kane Taylor with supporting Reigan within the game and also in the dressing room.

“I was conscious of the fact it wasn&apost Jaden&aposs responsibility to look after Reigan,” the coach said. “Reigan is a high-level player and Jaden&aposs still finding his way at this level himself.”

Despite that, Jaden says he made sure he was there to help his brother in his first appearance at this level. He said: “I wanted to help him during the game and before the game, I had to give him the encouragement. He dealt with it well.

“He was at school when he was told he would be playing. That was a fluster of emotions for him. He went off with cramp at half-time, but that&aposs because the intensity is so high compared to the under-16s. He did well.”

With both parents in the stands as the brothers lined up together, dad Emile got his phone out to record Reigan&aposs penalty for future posterity, but Jaden says the former England man took the decision not to give either of his sons too much advice pre-match when the family knew both would be involved.

“He stayed a bit quiet, he didn&apost want to put too much pressure on,” Jaden said. “But my mum and dad were both really proud.”

As two Heskey&aposs look to make their name at City, there will naturally be increased interest in the brothers due to their famous dad – and Barry-Murphy says the best way to help them deal with that is simple.

“They have to be treated as individuals. Jaden has me in his ear all the time demanding certain things so he doesn&apost have time to think about what Reigan&aposs doing,” he explained.

“I think it was such a quick thing – Reigan came in from school, so there wasn&apost a lot of planning in place. He just had to come in and do his thing. It&aposs an unusual dynamic but it&aposs important we treat them as individuals and they can play their own games. It&aposs unusual for brothers to play together but I&aposm sure it will happen again.”

The transfer window has been a hectic one and City have been busy, with high-profile signings and sales aplenty.

City snapped up Croatian pair Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol from Chelsea and RB Leipzig respectively with the latest addition being Jeremy Doku. Wolves&apos Matheus Nunes then joined the Blues on deadline day. In terms of outgoings, Treble winner Ilkay Gundogan departed for Barcelona, Aymeric Laporte and Riyad Mahrez moved to Saudi Arabia, and Cole Palmer completed a shock move to Chelsea.

Our team of City experts will be on top of all the goings-on at the Etihad across deadline day and beyond, and you can get the latest updates and inside information to your phone by joining our new free WhatsApp community below.