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Signed from Sheffield United on an initial three-year deal in July 2018, George Long’s talent has been evident for a number of years after progressing through the youth ranks at Bramall Lane to make his debut at the age of 17.
With his side already resigned to the relegation zone, Long was thrown in at the deep end against Swansea City on the final day of the 2010/11 campaign, but couldn’t prevent a poor Blades’ side falling to a 4-0 defeat. Earlier that season, the goalkeeper was a member of the Sheffield United youth team that reached the final of the FA Youth Cup, only to lose to Manchester United.
Long started the following season as second choice behind Mark Howard but, after an injury to Howard in October 2012, he became the side’s regular fixture between the posts. During his initial run in the team he conceded only one goal in five league appearances and was subsequently awarded League One ‘Player of the Month’ for October, followed by the Blades supporters’ Player of the Month for November 2012.
Long retained his place in the first team, despite the signing of experienced former Welsh international keeper Danny Coyne, and in March 2013 he was named Football League Young Player of the Month for February, following six consecutive clean sheets over the period. He remained United’s first-choice keeper and finished the season having played 44 times in all competitions.
Loan spells at Oxford United and Motherwell followed in 2014/15 having fallen behind Howard during Nigel Clough’s reign at Bramall Lane. During his time in Scotland, Long helped Motherwell preserve their top-flight status with a 6-1 aggregate win over Rangers in the Scottish Premier League play-off final.
Upon his return to Yorkshire, then Blades boss – and current Tigers Head Coach – Nigel Adkins placed his faith in Long and the custodian was a regular feature between the posts during his reign, making his 100th start in a United shirt in a League One clash with Wigan Athletic in February 2016.
Despite Sheffield United winning promotion to the Championship and signing a new two-year contract ahead of the campaign, 2016/17 proved to be a frustrating one for Long on a personal level as he made just five appearances all season, three of which came in the league.
The custodian spent the entirety of last season on loan at League One outfit AFC Wimbledon, where he kept 12 clean sheets in his 49 appearances in all competitions to help the Dons claim an 18th-place finish in the third tier of English football. Despite only being 24 years-of-age, Long has built up a wealth of experience in his career to-date with 200 appearances in club football.
In addition to his club career, Long has been recognised internationally receiving numerous call-ups to England youth teams. He made his England Under-18 debut in April 2011, coming on as a second-half substitute during a 1–1 draw with Italy in Carpi.
Following a successful 2012/13 season, Long was selected in the provisional 35-man squad for the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, and was later confirmed as part of the 21-man squad for the finals themselves. Although he featured in a pre-tournament practice match against Uruguay, Long failed to make any competitive appearances during the tournament.
He received his first call-up to the England Under-21 squad in August 2013 when selected in the squad for a fixture against Scotland at Bramall Lane. Long received two further call-ups for the Young Three Lions but failed to make an appearance at that level.