It’s stating the obvious to say it’s been a season to remember for Harry Cochrane.
The Scottish FA JD Performance School graduate has played with a maturity beyond his 16 years to become a first-team regular at Hearts – with manager Craig Levein consistently quick to sing his praises.
He’s broken all sorts of club records in the progress, while a stunning strike against Celtic only added to a reputation that had already long since been building within youth football circles.
That top-team involvement at Tynecastle meant he missed out on the Euros qualifying stage with the Under-17s, so Cochrane was delighted to be back in the fold for the Elite Round in Greece.
And while it may not have gone as planned for a side that harboured hopes of progressing to the finals this summer, the gifted midfielder has already exceeded any expectations he had for the campaign.
Harry, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you in a Scotland shirt. How pleased are you to be back in the squad?
It’s great. I’ve had so many unbelievable experiences with Hearts this season and I owe them everything for having the faith to put me into a first team environment at my age. That’s obviously led to me missing a few games for Scotland along the way but I always stays in touch with the boys and would look enviously at the Snapchat videos when they were all away on international duty. We’re such a close bunch that obviously I was delighted when I found out I would be able to go to the Elite Round. Now it feels like I’ve never been away.
You’ve come a long way since your involvement in the Victory Shield. How do you look back on a busy few months?
Honestly, I don’t know where to start. This season has been like a dream come true. I didn’t expect any of it to happen so quickly. Obviously that’s the hope but my initial aim was just to make sure I was a regular for the development team and then maybe make my first-team debut later in the season. Hearts have been great with me. I don’t think every manager would show the kind of faith Craig Levein has with the likes of Anthony McDonald and I. It’s not just been for a few minutes here and there either. He’s started us in important games and encouraged us to play our way. The goal against Celtic obviously meant the world to me as well.
In the blink of an eye you seem to have gone from Scottish FA JD performance School graduate to a shining light for the programme.
I’ll always say how important being part of the Performance School set-up was for me. I know the guys involved always credit the work the clubs do with us and that’s important but getting that extra time to develop, day in day out with the ball, can only be a good thing. I’d encourage anyone who ever has the chance to join the Performance School programme to jump at it.
In terms of the Elite Round, what will you take away from it?
First and foremost we wanted to qualify for the finals in England. Beyond that, I was just proud to be able to pull on a Scotland shirt again and delighted to be back in amongst it with the boys, Brian and the other members of staff. I know a few people have said it but it’s more like a family than a squad of players. We have such a good time in each other’s company and I think that shows on the pitch.
European Under-17 Championship Elite Round
The finals will be held in England this summer, with those who finish top of their Elite Round group – in addition to the seven runners-up with the best records against the teams finishing first and third in their section – qualifying.
Scotland 0, Greece 1, Wednesday 21 March, kick-off 4pm (local time), Pampeloponnisiako, Patras
Scotland 1 Norway 2, Saturday 24 March, kick-off 12pm (local time), Pampeloponnisiako, Patras
Scotland v Germany, Tuesday 27 March, kick-off 3pm (local time), Papacharalambeio Ethniko Stadio Nafpaktou, Nafpaktos
Ryan Mullen (Celtic)
Archie Mair (Aberdeen)
Taylor Wilson (Hamilton) PS
Nathan Patterson (Rangers) PS
Chris Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian) PS
Kane O’Connor (Hibernian)
Jack Armer (Preston North End)
Lewis Gordon (Watford)
Harrison Ashby (West Ham)
Ethan Erhahon (St Mirren) PS
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea) PS
Terry Taylor (Wolverhampton Wanderers) PS
Ethan Ross (Aberdeen) PS
Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian) PS
Marc Leonard (Heart of Midlothian) PS
Jamie Semple (Motherwell) PS
Adedapo Mebude (Rangers) PS
Aaron Pressley (Aston Villa)
Aidan Fitzpatrick (Partick Thistle)
Anthony McDonald (Hearts) PS
PS - denotes Performance School player