Newcastle United and England youth goalkeeper Freddie Woodman could have joined Manchester United, Manchester City or Arsenal before accepting terms with the Tyneside club, according to his father and coach, Andy Woodman.
‘’Some very big clubs were interested and they were putting pressure on,’’ the Newcastle goalkeeping coach told the Chronicle.
"Unbeknown to me, the academy people had done their homework on Freddie and in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, the bosses have said to me ‘if your boy goes to another club how does that look because you’re his coach and you’re the coach here?’"
‘’I think the real big thing that we thought about as a family – not just Freddie – is that he could have gone to Manchester United, he could have gone to Arsenal, he could have gone to Manchester City but the real big thing that really swayed us to Newcastle is that Newcastle’s goalkeepers have come through the youth team.’’
The 17-year-old, who has been capped by England at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 level, could be called up to make his Premier League debut this weekend if Newcastle fail in their bid to sign a goalkeeper on loan.
The Magpies come up against fierce rivals Sunderland this weekend and, should the Premier League reject the North East side’s request for an emergency loan, United could be up against it before a ball has even been kicked.
An occasion such as the Tyne-Wear derby, could rest heavily on the shoulders of the young 'keeper and it may not be great for his development, but with no other option, Pardew may have to hand him the gloves.
If Woodman is to make his debut, he would join Gianluigi Buffon in the record books as a goalkeeper to make a debut at 17. In 1995, the Italian started for Parma against eventual Serie A Champions AC Milan and hugely impressed, making key saves against Ballon d’Or winners Roberto Baggio and George Weah.
If Woodman were to have an impact anywhere close to that level, it would be sure to draw up comparisons between himself and the now legendary goalkeeper with nearly 150 international caps to his name.