Exclusive Interview: Harry Toffolo

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

JR  ‘'Good morning Harry, thanks for talking to me at TSF today.  Let’s start with how things are going for you at Huddersfield Town since signing in 2020.

HT '' I am absolutely loving it at Huddersfield Town.  I think I am improving as a player every day.  In the dressing room this season we can see the results and the success that we are having on the pitch and it's great to be around.  It is a workplace in which you come in with a smile on your face and, most importantly, you want to come to work which is obviously the most important thing in any life in any industry really.

It is exciting what we are achieving on the pitch and if we continue to build a camaraderie off the pitch then I am sure that will help too.’'

JR  ‘'I guess it helps coming from good footballing stock, the youth setup at Norwich City is one of the best around and ultimately helped you to make your full debut with the Canaries.  How was your time overall in Norfolk?

HT  ''Yes definitely.  I have got fond memories of Norwich City.  I was at the school of excellence down in Stevenage where my hometown is and I moved to Norwich when I was 12 years old.  Before that my parents were driving up and down the A14 three times a week which I am in a lot of debt to them for and I am very grateful.  It was great to be part of an academy at a reasonable age where I would go on to learn the different ways the football club wants to play and how competitive it is in professional football.

You get a taste for it when you do join the academy as to how competitive it can be. I was quite lucky really in the fact that my under 14's coach Neil Adams ended up being my youth cup winning coach.  He also became my loans manager whilst I was going out on loan at several different clubs when I was on the books at Norwich City.

To be able to have that person there who guided me throughout the different steps in my career from a 13 year old boy all the way to being 19 years old and playing in a League One play-off final… Neil Adams played a massive part in that.’'

JR  ‘'He must also have played a part in you being capped by England at youth international level.  How do you look back on representing your country?

HT  ‘'Of course.  I think when I received my first call up it was for the under 18's against Belgium away, the fact that you get to stand there and sing your national anthem is amazing.   I was very fortunate to get ten youth caps growing up and representing England at different levels from under 18 and under 19 and also under 20 level, it is something that I am very proud of.

To be able to represent your country at any level really is an achievement and sometimes you have to sit back and reflect on what you have achieved.  I have got all the shirts in frames and I have still got my caps so hopefully one day I will be able to show my children and my grandchildren all the things that I achieved early on in my career.’'

JR  ''You have a huge amount of experience at different levels of domestic and international football, who would say are among the best players that have added to your personal development?

HT '' Yes, if I go way back to when I played for Norwich City a player who stood out for me whenever I played or trained with him was Wes Hoolahan.  He is a special player.  I think he nutmegged more people in training than I have ever seen before, he used to do it on matchdays as well.  Last season I had the honour of being able to play with Emile Smith-Rowe and the likes of Lewis O’Brien, inevitably Lewis will play in the Premier League just as Emile Smith Rowe is who is now shining at Arsenal FC.

These are players that throughout my career I have had the honour to play with but I have also played in the same England team as Marcus Rashford, Jordan Pickford and Callum Chambers.  These are experiences that I have had which have shown me how the elite play and it is nice to be able to replicate that.’'

JR  ''I can imagine in your position as a defender that you’ve also come up against some difficult opponents down the years.  Could you say which of them have stood out?

HT '' Yes, I think in the Championship one of the best wingers I have ever come up against was Bryan Mbeumo of Brentford FC.  He is an excellent player whom I remember playing against last season, he was just an exceptional player.

In terms of cup games… I came up against Richarlison when I played against Everton FC for Lincoln City and that was special and I actually got his shirt after the game too.  He is a really nice guy as well.  It was a fantastic experience and it was a great game that day as well.’'

JR  “Harry, thanks so much for speaking to me today.  Before I let you go, tell me about the coaches and managers who have played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?”

HT  “I think that every single manager has helped me in different ways.  Anytime I have been at any club the manager has improved me, but for me there are three managers that stand out.   The first is Danny Cowley who took me to Huddersfield Town from Lincoln City.  I think that Michael Appleton is a great coach and a good human being as well, when speculation was arising that I was coming to Huddersfield Town he was fantastic with me and someone that I have got a lot of respect for.  He is someone that I would love to work with again in the future as he is a really good guy.

My current boss Carlos Corberán is great too.  His intelligence of the game and the way he wants to play football is unique and it is something that as a player you are excited to be a part of.  The system and the way he wants to play has meant that he is somebody who has improved me as a player, and ultimately as a person as well.  Carlos also has the ability to improve players individually and as part of a team, those are two massive strengths that he has, what more do you want from a head coach or a manager?

He is also getting the results on a match day so long may it continue, I am really enjoying working with Carlos closely.’'

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.