Shayne Lavery reveals Wayne Rooney inspiration after making Northern Ireland bow
Everton striker Lavery made his senior debut in Panama on Tuesday.
Having modelled his game on Wayne Rooney’s from the moment he first played football, starstruck Everton prospect Shayne Lavery is now heeding England’s all-time leading scorer’s advice.
Rooney announced himself in senior football as a 16-year-old with his sensational winner against Arsenal, and the Liverpudlian’s early exploits with the Toffees, England and Manchester United left a lasting impression on one youngster in Aghagallon, Northern Ireland.
“Wayne Rooney, basically,” Lavery said, when asked from whom he took inspiration while growing up.
“I’ve always watched Wayne Rooney since I could kick a ball.”
So when Rooney returned to Goodison Park last summer, there was a teenage striker in Everton’s youth ranks who not only looked up to him, but boasted a physical profile that matched his own when he first broke through.
“For him to come back to Everton was just amazing,” Lavery added.
“When you see him in the corridor, you’re a little bit taken aback.
“All the lads were the same: it’s Wayne Rooney. I’ve never experienced that before with the lads at Everton. You see the first team, but seeing Wayne Rooney… he’s a football legend.
“He’ll talk to the young lads, which is good. He’ll not just walk past you. He’s really nice.”
Rooney is not the only senior professional at Everton who has taken an interest in Lavery’s development.
“The main one I’d talk to would be Seamus Coleman,” Lavery noted.
“I’ve struggled with my hamstring this last year and he’s always asking how it is. He’s really good with the young players, not only me.
“He’s come from the League of Ireland so we’ve talked a few times about back home. That’s really good, it helps.”
Lavery, 19, is yet to make his senior Everton bow, though he was been on the bench for the Europa League tie at Apollon Limassol in December, and he earned senior international honours as a late substitute against Panama on Tuesday.
However, given the game began at 2am back home, it was likely a few hours before mum Margaret and dad Martin learned of their son’s Northern Ireland debut.
“I didn’t think I was going to play so I said, ‘Just go to sleep, wake up in the morning, you’ll be alright’,” Lavery explained.
“Then I did play. I phoned them in the morning. My mum would go on Twitter, I think, my dad would have just slept! He’s not missing his sleep! They were made up.”
Like most footballers, Lavery appreciates the sacrifices his parents made for him to reach this stage.
“Mum’s always got me to the football, when I was back playing underage,” he added.
“She’s always brought me to football and my dad’s got me into football.
“I think it was six o’clock every Tuesday, Thursday night, mum was beeping the horn to get me out because I had just got back from school and I’d be tired.”
Persuading her fatigued son onto the pitch proved worthwhile as Everton came calling at 16 and signed Lavery to a deal that took him across the water.
The youngster has spent the past three years living with a host family – one he credits with helping him adapt to life away from home – though he is now due to move into his own place, which means cooking for himself.
“It’s not too bad – (but) they (the host family) won’t say that,” Lavery said. “I can do scrambled egg!”