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SSFC Spotlight: Jaheim Headley breaks into Huddersfield Town rotation

The left back is eligible for England, Jamaica, and the USMNT.

Blackpool v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by John Early/Getty Images

Every once in a while, a name pops up on the radar for those who monitor players. The young talent breaks into the first team, receiving social media attention and speculation on his international future. One of the more recent additions to the collective American soccer consciousness is Jaheim Headley, a trial-national who ascended into the rotation with Huddersfield Town. The 21-year-old left back has been called into action during the relegation battle in the English Championship.

Born in the London district of Southwark, Headley spent his youth career with the Millwall setup and London’s Mass Elite Academy, a private organization that “tries to get players into professional clubs.” After impressing with his speed and intelligence during a trial, he joined Huddersfield at the age of 16, quickly rising through the ranks and winning Academy Goal of the Season for an effort against Manchester United. The teenager scored seven times at the U-17 level and also appeared with the Under-19 squad and Elite Development Team, described as “one of the most promising players in the academy.”

“It was pretty challenging when I first came in,” he told the club’s official website. “I had to quickly get familiar with the area. I had to get up early to get the bus in from where I live, as they’re not as frequent as in London! The style of life up here is quite different; there are fewer people and I’m up in the hills, so it’s quite cold... I see myself as a versatile player; I know how to play a few different roles now. I’m getting better, particularly in my game understanding and on the tactical side.”

As with many players based in England, his career began with a series of loans, despite still being on an academy contract. Headley joined Bradford (Park Avenue) in the National League North on a short-term deal, making five appearances and scoring his first goal. That same season, he enjoyed a spell with Hyde United in the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division, featuring in four total matches.

Headley then went to Welling United in the National League South, making two appearances, relishing the opportunity to be around veterans, perform in a higher-intensity environment, and “improve both physically and tactically while becoming more confident.” At the tail end of the schedule, Huddersfield included him in the match-day squad against Reading. In 2021, he embarked on a brief loan to Yeovil Town in the National League, featuring in a single cup fixture. Most of his on-field experience came with the parent club’s reserve squad, displaying prodigious talent off the dribble.

Huddersfield signed him to a new contract through 2024 with a club option year, believing the defender has the potential to succeed at the professional level. Last summer, Headley joined League Two side Harrogate Town on a season-long loan. He made 25 total appearances, contributing two goals and two assists while impressing as a Man of the Match and Sky Bet Team of the Week honoree. His “energy and end product” were praised, passing “every test thrown at him with flying colors.” The highlight was a thunderous strike from distance in a 2-1 loss to Bradford City.

In light of his strong performance and in need of reinforcements, the defender was recalled by Huddersfield in January. Upon his return, Headley was included in the match-day roster for a Championship match against Queens Park Rangers. A few days later, he made his debut with The Terriers, playing 26 minutes in a 2-2 draw against Blackpool. In the following fixture, the defender was once again subbed into proceedings, picking up four minutes in a crucial 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic.

His first start followed, featuring for the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Stoke City. It’s “all hands on deck” for the remainder of the season, as Huddersfield is squarely in the relegation zone and needs a positive string of results. Septuagenarian escape artist Neil Warnock was hired to accomplish the job, a new variable that could affect the left back’s status in the squad.

At the international level, Headley is eligible to represent England, the United States, and Jamaica. He has yet to appear for any of the three potential options but recently expressed a preference for the Caribbean nation. With the Reggae Boyz attempting to recruit more European-based professionals during the 2026 World Cup cycle, the defender could receive a call-up sooner than expected.

Headley is primarily a dynamic left fullback who can also play as a winger and defensive midfielder, noted for his “strength and pace.” He wins the majority of his challenges and aerial duels, while also completing several dribbles per match. His work on the ball is particularly skillful, typically looking to quickly cut inside and beat the first opponent before laying off to a teammate or unleashing a driven shot. Considered adequate as a “one-on-one defender,” the final third is where his greatest impact is made.

“He’s got the lot: he’s quick, powerful, capable of going past an opponent, good quality on the ball, a fierce strike and more than happy to put himself about,” wrote Rhys Howell of the Harrogate Advertiser. “He’s robust as well, but the big thing for me is how confident he is in possession of the football. He’s happy to receive it and play in really tight areas. On occasion he’s been dispossessed in dangerous positions, but usually, he backs himself and then does the business. There have been times when he’s run into trouble, but if he can’t go around an opponent or outpace them, then he’ll just outmuscle them instead.”

While the USMNT is positively teeming with fullback options at the moment, the addition of new talent to the depth chart is welcome, although Jamaica appears to have the inside track on his commitment. Headley only just broke into the first team and has years to go before becoming a fully-developed player. The next step is gaining a consistent foothold in Huddersfield’s rotation, ideally with The Terriers avoiding relegation this season.