Trai Hume less excited about his NI call-up than his mum and dad

Trai Hume insists nothing much in football fazes him, which might be why the Sunderland defender’s family got more excited about his first senior Northern Ireland call-up than he did.

By Sports Desk
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 8:00 am

Hume, who turned 20 last week, is in Ian Baraclough’s squad for the friendlies against Luxembourg and Hungary during this international window, a call he was never expecting having only made a couple of appearances for the Black Cats since his January move from Linfield.

“I was just going to the training ground on Sunday morning and Ian’s rung me up,” Hume said.

“I’ve answered it without knowing it’s him. He’s come on and just said he wants to call me up to the seniors. I was kind of taken aback by it and surprised, but there’s no better news.

Trai Hume joined Sunderland from Linfield back in January

“I rang my mum and dad straight after. They were buzzing. They were more excited than me. It kind of didn’t hit me at the start but they were buzzing. I rang my grandad after that and he was buzzing too.

“I’m kind of a chill person, I don’t get too excited over things and I kind of take it as it goes, but they were over the moon.”

The phone call Hume got last week is the dream of so many youngsters growing up in Northern Ireland – Hume has been to Windsor Park countless times as a fan himself in his youth – but he insisted there was a reason he was so calm when his moment came.

“The first thing I did when I was growing up was play football so anything that comes from football is kind of normal,” he said.

“You don’t let big games affect you, you’re here for a reason. You’re here to play football and enjoy it.”

Hume might otherwise have expected to be with the under-21s this week – John Schofield’s side face Slovakia in a Euro 2023 qualifier before a friendly against France which replaced the cancelled qualifier against Russia – but is the latest face to be promoted to the senior squad.

Baraclough, the former under-21s boss, has also handed Caolan Boyd-Munce and Paddy Lane their first senior calls in this window as they follow on from the likes of Conor Bradley, Dale Taylor and Sam McClelland in getting a chance to step up.

“We obviously see the players going up to the senior squad but you kind of keep it to yourself, you’re hoping you’ll be the next one but we don’t really talk about it much,” Hume said when asked if the pathway has become a topic of conversation for Northern Ireland’s next generation.

“You can see how many have come up now and I’m pretty sure there will be more to come as there are a lot of good players in the under-21s.”

Hume has worked for his opportunity. Capable of playing at right-back or in midfield, he broke through with his hometown side Ballymena before moving to Linfield, later returning to Ballymena on loan.

Though he worried when he saw team-mates getting opportunities across the Irish Sea as teenagers, Hume used his time in the Irish League to earn that move to Sunderland – and a four-and-a-half-year contract, at the start of the year.

Though playing time has been hard to come by, Hume has impressed when called upon, and now has the chance to become a full international.

“It was obviously always in the plan but it has come a bit quicker than I thought it would,” he said.

“I only moved away in January and it is obviously only March now and here I am with the Northern Ireland senior team, it’s what every boy dreams of.

“I have got the call two months after moving across the water but I just try to take it in my stride.”