Every time James Trafford opens his bedroom curtains in the City Football Academy, he is able to gaze out from his exciting football present towards an even more thrilling future. “My view is onto the first-team training pitch,” he says. “Sometimes one of the coaches will spot you and wave at you.”

It is indeed a room with a rare view; of De Bruyne, Aguero, Ederson et al. “They’re clever with how they’ve designed it all,” Trafford says. “It shows you where you aspire to be.”

Trafford, 17, certainly has aspirations. One of the best young goalkeepers in the country at his age, he has represented England up to Under-18 level and is progressing positively at Manchester City.

Dean Henderson is one Cumbrian footballer taking dramatic steps; following him, in the same position, is Trafford, a farmer’s son from Greysouthen near Cockermouth, who joined City from Carlisle United’s academy aged 12.

We have spoken in the past when Trafford was a younger, shyer boy embarking on an incredible journey. Now he has the presence and confidence of a teenager more at ease with his opportunity. He is in his first scholarship year at City and is earmarked to turn professional in July.

He is not wide-eyed about this, instead seeing it as the next step on the road. “City do it after one year as a scholar,” he says. “It’s a rule for everyone, which means we’re all sort of equal. But yeah – when I was young my goal was to be a professional footballer and it will clarify that. It will be a big milestone for me.”

It was the same, he says, when awarded his scholarship with the Premier League champions. “Everyone had their meetings, but I wasn’t nervous,” he smiles. “I knew how good I was and I sort of knew I was gonna get one. But it felt good at the same time.”

At the family home there is a commemorative cap in a display case which frames that moment. Since then Trafford has played regularly for City’s Under-18s, also featuring in their Under-23 squad and FA Youth Cup side. This scene, and the enviable facilities he enjoys, are available only to elite young players from this and other countries, and so far Trafford has flourished.

“There are plenty of folk who don’t make it,” he says. “It’s a big club. It comes down to the hard work you put in. You’re not born with natural ability, I don’t think. It’s the hours you put in yourself.”

Trafford does not have to look far when asked for the source of that work ethic. He thinks of the farming environment he was born into. “It’s bred in you, that discipline,” he says. “My dad getting up so early, my mam too. They sacrifice a lot. The examples are there – I just learn from them.”

Trafford used to help out on the farm and admits he would “probably be farming” if football had not opened its doors. It did, as in the case of many keepers, partly by accident. “When I first started, I was five or six, and I’d just get thrown in net because I was the youngest,” he says.

“My cousin Ed was at Carlisle, and Will played rugby, and we always played football in the gardens. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I’ve come from farming background and no-one really played football until Ed, and even then people thought it was a one-off. But I just kept loving football.

“When I started playing more, I was centre-midfield. No-one likes being a keeper when you’re that young, stood there in the cold! I was at Cockermouth, playing a year up in the under-10s and about 20 of us got taken for six-week trials at Carlisle. It got down to 15, 10 got signed straight away and I was one of the five that hadn’t.

“There was then one session at Carlisle when they only had one keeper, and asked if anyone wanted to give it a go. My dad had always said I should be a keeper and used to put my gloves in with my mum when she took me. So I said, ‘Alright’ – I ran over, mum gave us my gloves and I just loved it.”

Coaches were impressed by Trafford’s goalkeeping instincts. “Part of it that I enjoyed was seeing people’s reactions when you saved one of their shots,” he says. “And I’d always liked diving around in mud…”

There is not so much mud at City’s manicured surfaces. “I came from Cockermouth School pitches, on a slope, or Frenchfields with Carlisle where there was a puddle in the goalmouth. At City there’s about 20 pitches, and the grass is like a carpet. There are pitches specifically for goalkeeping, blue astroturf, undersoil heating, underfloor heating in the changing rooms…”

Trafford says he does not take these luxuries for granted, and is now enjoying more aspects of his life in Manchester. He did not immediately take to living away from home at 12, failing to settle with the first house parents arranged for him by City as the club also enrolled him at St Bede’s private school, where he recently sat his GCSEs. Last year he also struggled with homesickness when his grandpa passed away. “There’d be times it was hard,” he says. “The thing I missed most was getting in and talking to your mam and dad about your day.

“As a young kid I never liked residentials, sleepovers. I hated living away from home. But you can’t get upset about it, because it’s for your dream and it will affect your football. I moved into the academy when I was 16 and I love it now.

“There are two house parents who overlook it all, and a corridor with rooms either side. Next to me there’s Eric Garcia, who’s played for the first team. We all look out for each other, play pool and ping pong. If there’s a big game on we’ll watch it in the lounge on the big telly.”

While his education continues – City require their academy players to take a BTEC in sport, as well as coaching qualifications – Trafford’s aim is to be the one on the big telly, and in the Etihad Stadium, which can be glimpsed from the academy. He is drilled by academy goalkeeping coach Max Johnson and has regular contact with first-team coach Xabier Mancisidor, who is responsible for preparing Ederson for Pep Guardiola’s galactic team.

“He [Xabier] puts his philosophy through the academy,” Trafford says, “and he talks to you quite a lot. It makes you feel you’re not far from it all.” Learning the club’s goalkeeping style is a key aspect. “A big part of the game at City is playing off both feet, playing behind their defence, playing long balls but with accuracy, and being comfortable with someone a yard away, pressing you,” he says.

“Max says it’s a part of my game that sets me apart from a lot of others. We do it every day and join in the possession with the outfielders. We normally have 60-70 per cent possession in a game so you have to have the awareness and technical ability. It’s not more important than saving shots but it’s not miles away either.”

Trafford idolises keepers like David De Gea and Ederson, studying the latter and Claudio Bravo closely, having been told he will train with them soon. He insists this will not faze him, and in this he may be a little like the super-confident Henderson, who is currently starring for Sheffield United on loan from Manchester United, and in the England senior squad.

“I chat to him quite a bit,” Trafford says of his fellow Cumbrian. “He’s some fella. I met him at the United-City game last year and it was just how he came across – as confident, not arrogant or cocky. He has a lot of self-belief. You learn from that; how he presents himself. He’s only about 6ft 2in but he looks a lot bigger.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t the most confident, but it’s come with years. You grow up, present yourself bigger. If you try and secure future loan moves, lower-league managers will want to see how you can manage your box, how you look.”

As well as performing for a City academy side that includes Liam Delap, son of ex-Carlisle favourite Rory, Trafford hopes to further his own England prospects. He first played for his country’s Under-16s against Denmark and last year featured against Sweden at the European Under-17 Championships in Dublin. He also stepped up to the Under-18s, playing in front of 3,000 fans at Poland alongside rising stars like Luke Matheson and Taylor Harwood-Bellis. His goal is to make the Under-19 squad for the Euros in 2021, by which time he might also be ready to head out on loan for a first shot at first-team football.

He is thrilled at his international status. “It’s the best feeling,” he smiles. “Representing your country at anything must be amazing, but in the sport you love…it’s immense pride. The first time was unbelievable – national anthems, wearing the kit...”

At last summer’s Euros, Trafford played with his name on his shirt for the first time; this jersey hangs in a room at Greysouthen which is already packed with his football memorabilia. He gets home to see dad James, mum Alison and sister Charlotte a little less often now – before it was most weekends, now it is every two or three weeks, while he is learning to drive on Manchester’s bustling roads – but his roots remain in mind. When he heads outside to pose for photos, he stands between the set of garden goalposts he used to dive between as a child. He also keeps in touch with his former Carlisle coach Ben Benson, and the boys he played with at United, some of whom are now in the club’s youth team, like Ryan Swailes, Adam Walton and Lewis Bell.

In the year above were Taylor Charters and Jarrad Branthwaite, someone he could encounter on the Under-23 scene after his move to Everton. “They’re all doing well,” he says. “It’s different paths but we’ll somehow cross in the future.”

He misses his older friends back home, but believes none of them begrudge his priceless football opportunity. “When we were younger, we’d go round town, have a kickabout, and now we can’t really do it any more,” he says. “But I talk to them a lot on Playstation. They’re proper happy and supportive of me.

“I hope they’re not jealous – I don’t think they are. I’ve got a good set.”