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post #13 of (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2004, 17:49 Thread Starter
King_Henrik's Avatar
Join Date: 07 2004
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Heres an article on McGeady for those who are interested.

Bhoy who would be King

Aiden McGeady turns 18 today and Celtic's prodigy is being hailed as a world beater. Sadly, it won't be in a Scotland jersey.

As a child, Martin O’Neill became obsessed with a story he had heard of Ferenc Puskas keeping a tennis ball up more than 200 times. He spent long, often frustrating hours pursuing this mark before matching it. Soon, Celtic’s manager will unleash a player on Scottish football who can easily eclipse both him and the great Hungarian in this respect. Aiden McGeady, who turns 18 today, can manage 500 or so with a tennis ball but prefers a tougher challenge. In his childhood, not so very long ago, he watched footage of Diego Maradona juggling a golf ball and decided he would have a go. His record with the smaller ball is more than 200.

These are the parlour tricks that he perfects in the garden of the family home on Glasgow’s south side, while his father John, a former Sheffield United right-winger, washes the car. Yet there is more, much more, to McGeady than that. He is a two-footed attacking midfielder or second striker of marvellous technique and imagination, according to everybody who has seen him. How far can he go? How far have you got.

John is now an English teacher — David Marshall, Celtic’s goalkeeping sensation, is a former pupil — and initially steered his son away from the vagaries of the game and toward academia. His own career had been curtailed by a series of knee injuries and he was acutely aware of the risks ahead. Ironically, it was while his dad was in hospital for some follow-up surgery that Aiden started playing for an under-eights team in Busby, on the outskirts of Glasgow, with his mum’s consent. Eventually, John’s curiosity got the better of him and he went to watch. Peering through a slatted fence at the side of the pitch, he saw a small boy leaving several opponents in his wake and thought: “Aiden won’t be able to handle this.” Then it slowly dawned on him. It was Aiden he was watching through the fence.

Soon scouts were flocking to watch the prodigy too. Arsenal wanted to take him to London at the age of 10 but John, remembering his own homesickness as a 16-year-old in Sheffield, stood firm. He was determined that Aiden would stay in Glasgow where he could concentrate on getting his standard grades — he did, seven ones and a two — before signing as a full-time professional at 16. Aiden did, though, guest for the London club in various tournaments, including one match against Auxerre in front of Liam Brady and Don Howe. Afterwards, Brady said Aiden was “the most complete young player he had ever seen”.

From an early age, encouraged by his father who was overly reliant on his right, McGeady developed both feet and is equally adept with either. “He takes corners, free kicks and penalties with both,” said John. “I remember in my own career I could beat people on the left but then couldn’t put a cross in from there. I told Aiden that if he really wanted to be a top-level player, he needed to be two-footed.”

There were other offers besides Arsenal’s and Celtic’s, many of them more lucrative, from a host of clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Adidas, meanwhile, were also alerted by their scouts and have already signed Aiden on a £20,000 endorsement deal. “We were very impressed by Tommy Burns (Celtic’s youth coach) and money wasn’t an issue for us,” explained John. “I was more interested in being able to monitor Aiden closely. All the coaches at Celtic have helped nurture him. Willie McStay has been great and Aiden has also been impressed by the pragmatic coaching he’s had from Kenny McDowall, who runs the under-21s.

“To be perfectly honest, he was a little bit petulant when he went there at first. He wanted to be the youngest player to play in the first-team and I had to remind him to be realistic and that he still had a lot to do. I think the first season was difficult but got him bedded in and he’s getting faster, stronger, more consistent and scoring more goals now.”

If Celtic won their battle for McGeady, Scotland, the country of his birth, have already lost theirs to Ireland, the country of his heritage. Both nations were aware of him early. He represented Scotland at a secondary school international tournament in Paris against Brazil, Argentina and England before France 98 while still at primary school, and officials at the Scottish Schools Football Association (SSFA) were frustrated that later on Celtic wouldn’t let the St Ninian ’s High School pupil play for their under-15 side, but did eventually allow him to play for an Irish team at the same age level. Brian Kerr, who masterminded their youth set-up before being promoted to managing the full national side, had been tipped off about McGeady’s potential, and Donegal heritage, by both Brady and Pat Bonner.

John, whose parents are from Gweedore in Donegal, presumed his son would play for Scotland and admits to being surprised by the vehemence of his declaration for the Republic, which has since survived a personal plea from Berti Vogts. “I consider myself Scottish born and bred,” he admits. “I grew up here and was educated here, as was Aiden, but from the moment he made his Irish under-15 debut right down on the southern tip of Wales, he’s felt part of their set-up. He wants to play in World Cups and European championships and feels that he might have more chance of reaching them with Ireland than Scotland. I have told him I am not sure if he’s right because I watch a lot of football and there are some promising players coming through in Scotland, but it was Aiden’s decision and he won’t change his mind.”

Ross Mathie, who manages Scotland’s youth sides, arranged the unprecedented meeting with Vogts at Hampden one day in a last-ditch attempt. “It is the first time I have taken a boy to meet the national manager,” he said. “It was because Aiden was that little bit different that we felt we had to go that extra mile. He’s one of these boys who can change a game with a piece of sudden excellence.”

Sean McCaffrey, who heads the Republic’s youth set-up, is understandably delighted that McGeady has gone green. “Aiden has the ability to do things that 99% of other players can’t. He can see things early and has that wee bit of genius to get out of tight or difficult situations. The quick brain to see opportunities, possibilities and the fantastic technical ability to exploit them.

“He’s in the same type of vein as Robbie Keane but I think he’s going to be even better, and I don’t say that lightly because I am a huge admirer of Robbie, who has scored a lot of fabulous goals for his country. He’s the one young player that I think you would find every single scout in Britain agrees upon and I could easily see him playing for our full international side in a couple of years. He’s got the personality to keep honing his skills, a sound family behind him and is an intelligent lad. He wants to stay on after training sessions and can’t get enough of the ball. He has a great hunger for the game. He played for us in a 3-3 draw against France recently and they had players like Gael Clichy of Arsenal, but he didn’t look out of place.”

Wonderboys can often leave you wondering whatever happened to them, however. In the late 1980’s Nii Lamptey, a young Ghanian at Anderlecht, was rumoured to be the next Pele. The great man helpfully called him his “natural successor”, but his career slowly slid into obscurity from PSV Eindhoven to Aston Villa to Coventry City to Palermo to Greuther Furth in Germany’s Second Division and finally China. In 20 years time will we be chronicling a similar fall for Freddy Adu, another young man from Ghana who has been adopted by the United States and hailed as the most promising player in the world at the tender age of 14? Celtic have had their own versions of over-hyped youngsters. There was Steve Fulton, once hailed as the new Roberto Baggio, or even Stuart Slater. Slater was also keepie-uppie king as a child, the Joe Cole of his day at West Ham, and joined Brady’s Celtic for £1.5m in 1992. Like Lamptey, he slowly faded from view. He went to Ipswich, Leicester, Watford, Forest Green and now, aged 34, combines playing with Weston-super-Mare, on what is known as the Somerset Riviera, with coaching West Ham’s under-11s.

McGeady is mindful of such cautionary tales but confident he can fulfil his potential. He travelled with Celtic’s first-team to the Nou Camp for the recent Uefa Cup tie and O’Neill came up, put his arm round him and asked him if he was enjoying himself.

The manager didn’t mention a keepie-uppie contest, although that challenge will surely be forthcoming when he discovers that McGeady shares his talent with a tennis ball.

Celtic FC - The first club in Britain to win the European Cup

"Celtic, like Barcelona, are more than a football club. Our clubs are a symbol of a culture and community that has not always been made welcome in their respective countries."

7. Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone - Greatest Ever Celt

RIP wee man

Originally Posted by Jonny
Strachan will be out a job by summer '07. Quote me on that.
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