Newcastle United transfer target and Sunderland prospect Chris Rigg opens up on ambitions

Sunderland prospect Chris Rigg hopes to play more regularly for the club’s under-21s side as he continues his development on Wearside.
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The 15-year-old midfielder made headlines this month by becoming the Black Cats’ youngest-ever outfield player after coming off the bench during a 2-1 FA Cup win at Shrewsbury.

Many will have noticed Rigg has recently been training with the senior team before matches, while he has also become the youngest-ever player to feature in Premier League 2 at under-21s level.

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“I want to be playing in the under-21 more regularly, so that’s the next step to work towards,” Rigg told Sunderland’s website when asked about his ambitions for the rest of the campaign.

Chris Rigg playing for Sunderland at Shrewsbury.Chris Rigg playing for Sunderland at Shrewsbury.
Chris Rigg playing for Sunderland at Shrewsbury.

“And I’m working to make a few more appearances for the first team. The ultimate aim is to get a goal, but that’s my high standards kicking in. To score a goal, make an assist, that would be the best day.

“I'm really grateful to all the staff here and I just want to keep working towards my standards – that’s always what I’m striving to do.”

Rigg, who is completing his GCSEs, has attracted interest from several Premier League clubs, most notably from Newcastle, but is not yet of an age where he can sign a professional contract.

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The teenager, who will turn 16 in June, has represented England at under-16s and under-17s level, while he still remembers scoring on his under-15s debut for the national side last year.

“It’s been a very busy year, starting to get the England call-ups and playing for our U21s at club level, training with the first team,” Rigg added. “I don’t see that as surreal, though, because that’s my level. My standards are really high.

“I want to be at the top all the time, so whilst it’s been such a busy year, it’s been a really good one for me and my family.

“I would say that so far, my debut for the U15s has been my best moment in the England camps. I hit a screamer on my debut against Chile, which was a really good feeling, but then I feel like it started moving up for me from there.”

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Rigg also made an impact in that game at Shrewsbury, winning the corner which led to Ross Stewart’s equaliser.

"To get the win and progress to the next round just topped it off,” reflected Rigg. “I remember my dad pointing out to me that not many 15-year-olds would take on their man down the wing to win the corner for the equaliser.

“After the game was a whirlwind – the moment between myself and Luke O’Nien was immense, which is on video. It gave me so much confidence – Luke has messaged me since and told me he’s there for anything I need.

“I went to see my dad and my little brother in the crowd – he’s a big Sunderland fan. He was trying to start chants with my name, and to see all the fans after the game, I felt like I was dreaming.

“All the players were making sure I knew what a moment it was, and the gaffer said after the game that I’ll be 35 and telling people I came on and won us the game… I probably will be.”