Who is Jack Harrison? Get to know NYCFC's New York Derby hero

Jack Harrison has been making waves since debuting for New York City FC in May, and firmly put himself in the national spotlight not long after when he led City to their first #NYDerby win ever. For those who may not be familiar with the Blues' talented English rookie, here's a quick primer.

Though he attained the dream of millions of young players around the world when he earned a place in Manchester United's academy, Harrison made a life-changing decision to leave his homeland and strike out for an education in the USA as an adolescent. His mother Deborah and a physical education teacher named Dan McElroy collaborated to create and capitalize on an opportunity for Harrison to attend the Berkshire School, a selective boarding and college prep institution in Sheffield, Massachusetts, on a soccer scholarship.

It was painful for Deborah to let young Jack cross the Atlantic on his own, but one that she made with her son's future in mind.

“It’s been hard with her not being here. She’s been so supportive,” Harrison told MLSsoccer.com on draft day in Baltimore. "I’m so proud of her for doing the best she can from across the world. She’s a single mother, raised me by herself and I’m her only child as well. It was hard for her, but I’m glad we made it through together. This is the dream. This is what I’ve always dreamed of, and we’re both just really happy.”

Who is Jack Harrison? Get to know NYCFC's New York Derby hero - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/styles/image_landscape/s3/images/SD_1_Harrison_4.jpg

The move eventually positioned Harrison for a short but dazzling NCAA career at Wake Forest, where he posted 8 goals and 11 assists as a freshman, earning NSCAA First Team All-America, ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year honors.

His abilities so impressed NYCFC that the second-year MLS club sought to claim him as a Homegrown player on account of his stint with Manhattan Soccer Club, now an NYCFC affiliate, during high school. Even though that claim was denied, NYC refused to be, wheeling and dealing on draft day to acquire Harrison from Chicago after the Fire selected him with the No. 1 overall pick. 

A hip injury limited Harrison's participation in NYCFC's preseason and early-spring activities, a frustrating situation not unlike his countryman Frank Lampard's. But he worked his way back to full health and like Lampard, quickly found his form after making a 2016 debut in the final stages of the Red Bulls' stunning 7-0 win over NYC on May 21.

Once he hit full form, Harrison notched two goals and two assists in a wing role over his first four starts. And it's no coincidence that NYCFC went 3-1 in those four games.

That form has caused media both sides of the Atlantic to sit up and take notice. Harrison has expressed interest in representing his adopted country, the United States (though he would need to obtain citizenship first), while The Telegraph's Bob Williams has called on the English FA to bring Harrison into the fold for the Three Lions.

There's much more to be written in the Jack Harrison story, to be sure, but the first chapter has been a thrilling one.