Jake Charles: Barnsley and Wales U21 youngster following in 'Giant' footsteps

Jake Charles (left) in action for Huddersfield Town against Tim Hoogland of Fulham in 2015
Jake Charles (left) made his only first team appearance for Huddersfield Town against Fulham in March 2015

The accent is unmistakably West Yorkshire, but Jake Charles' Welsh football heritage is unquestionable.

Grandfather John Charles is considered by many as the greatest Welsh footballer of all time and one of British football's most successful foreign exports.

He was lauded as one of the sport's best all-round footballers, comfortable on the ball in defence or as a centre forward.

Fans at former clubs Leeds United and Juventus still adore Charles, who along with brother Mel, was part of Wales' World Cup squad of 1958.

John Charles
John Charles has two spells at Leeds and also played for Juventus, Roma, Cardiff City, Hereford and Merthyr

But Jake Charles is not burdened by the famous surname and takes great pride when talking about the achievements of his grandfather, who died aged 72 in 2004.

"I take it in really and use it as confidence for myself," Charles told BBC Wales Sport.

"He was a legend in Italy and here in Wales and if I do half as well as he did then I'll be doing well for myself.

"Everyone knows how much of a big, big player he was.

"I've seen [footage] of him in his days at Leeds and Juventus and he was a Gentle Giant as they said.

"When he passed away I was young but I remember his stature and how big he was. He was a big guy."

Charles family's Welsh international record
John Charles, 38 caps and 15 goals between 1950 and 1965
Mel Charles (brother of John), 31 caps and six goals between 1955 and 1963
Jeremy Charles (son of Mel), 19 caps and one goal between 1980 and 1986

John Charles became the youngest Welsh international in 1950 when he made his senior debut as an 18-year-old against Northern Ireland at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

Sixty six years on and grandson Jake has been training at the same ground this week with Wales' under-21 squad ahead of two Euro 2017 qualifiers.

Having represented Wales at under-16, under-17 and under-19 levels, Leeds-born Charles has won six under-21 caps since his debut against Bulgaria on 31 March, 2015.

"I love getting here with the lads for the weeks when we meet up," Charles added.

"The international games that we play in are competitive and we want to qualify for Poland in 2017.

Jake Charles with Brian Flynn
Jake Charles with former Wales intermediate manager Brian Flynn following and Under-17 international in 2011

"We know if we perform well we've got a chance of getting there."

Charles took time out from preparing for Wales' game against Denmark on Friday to complete a move from Huddersfield Town to Yorkshire rivals Barnsley on transfer deadline day.

The 20-year-old forward made one first team appearance for Huddersfield as a late substitute against Fulham in March 2015 but is looking forward to a new challenge with the development squad at Oakwell.

"I'd been at Huddersfield since I was nine years old and it's not easy to leave but it's part of football," Charles added.

"You've got to move on and I'm looking forward to a new challenge.

"I want to make a name for myself there and prove to people that I'm a good player and break into the first team.

"I've got to put together consistent performances in the Under-21s.

"It's a fresh start for me and I'm looking forward to get going when I get back."

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