In a snapshot of the role the U21 team plays in the progress and development of players coming through the pathway system, Johnson was joined in Paul Bodin's squad by Mark Harris, Ben Cabango, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Brandon Cooper, who have all since been involved with the senior squad.
“I did play for England but I can't fault Wales,” Johnson told BBC Sport Wales in November 2019. “It's been really good. Wales have made me feel at home and I am loving playing for them. The Welsh link is all my mum's side of the family, who I have been really close with all my life. I always see them - they always come round. They are all Wales fans and they have been telling me to play for Wales. I am enjoying coming away with the under-21s and hopefully things can progress. Hopefully I can keep making them proud.”
Making his U21 debut, Johnson scored the only goal of the game against Belgium after just three minutes. However, it would prove to be a long campaign for Cymru as Germany proved to the dominant force while Belgium won the return match 5-0 in Leuven the following year. Of course, the progression of players to the senior squad will always have a huge effect on the U21 side, but Bodin can only see the positives in the likes of Johnson and others moving up through the ranks to represent their country at the highest level.
“Players do get moved up to the seniors quite quickly,” said Bodin. “The real positive thing is most young players want to see a pathway. Whether you are with the 17s, 19s or 21s, you want to see that pathway into the first team. That has happened without a shadow of a doubt in abundance over the last few years. That’s one of the big pulling factors we have when players can possibly play for one or two other nations. We explain the pathway to them and they see it visually themselves. The main thing is we create a really good environment for the players to come into so they enjoy their football. It’s not an easy pathway, but it’s a pathway that’s definitely there for the Welsh boys.”
Brennan is the son of David Johnson, who came through the youth ranks at Manchester United before representing a number of clubs including Ipswich Town and Nottingham Forest, but opted to play international football for Jamaica. “It would have been nice if he had played for them as well,” added Brennan, who is currently impressing at Forest in the Championship. “But he has liked seeing me play for Wales. He has been to watch the games and he is really happy with me playing for Wales. I get advice from him - what he used to do and how he might have changed things as a player. He can tell me what I should do and how I can maybe do things differently. I only see that as a positive.”