Reece Jordan has highlighted Cristiano Ronaldo as an inspiration amid a very successful season to date for the 16-year-old Portadown left-back.
The boy from the Moy has not only impressed since breaking into Matthew Tipton’s first team but he has also played against Scotland and Italy with Northern Ireland’s Under-17s.
A bright future in the game lies ahead but the teenager is combining his sporting life with academia, studying biology, chemistry and maths at A Level.
Jordan stepped away from his GAA club Maghery to concentrate on football and says the appetite and desire of global superstar Ronaldo works as motivation for him.
“The player I really look up to is Ronaldo,” said the young defender. “I’m a Manchester United fan and I love all the younger players, like Mason Greenwood.
“But Ronaldo is the best because of his mentality, his dedication to football.
“He looks after himself in terms of what he puts into his body and you can see that by the fact that he is still playing at the highest level in the Premier League at the age of 36.
“I would say he has been an inspiration to me.
“I started at Loughgall when I was seven, then moved to Portadown when I was 10 or 11. I was a midfielder when I started out, then I played at centre-half for Portadown in the Super Cup in 2018.
“When I joined the Under-20s team, I moved to left-back and have played there ever since. I just wanted to play football every week and I’m still the same.
“I made my full first-team debut at the end of last season and I was very grateful to the gaffer for giving me the opportunity.
“He’s great with young players, all the players really. I was delighted to get back into the first team and I hope I rewarded his faith in me.
“We were playing Linfield at Shamrock Park at the start of November and the gaffer told me to be ready to come on at some stage because he knew Barney McKeown wouldn’t play the full game.
“But then Barney pulled out before kick-off and Matty told me I would be starting. He reassured me that I was capable enough to do the job and that really helped me.
“I was excited. I was a bit nervous as well but overall I just couldn’t wait for the game to start. I was up against Kirk Millar and I think I did okay. We got a clean sheet which is the main thing.
“The gaffer kept me in the team for the next few games and I was happy to be playing. All I want to do is play football.
“I’m enjoying it. Our results don’t reflect our performances in my opinion but we have been hampered by injuries and some late goals in games.”
Tipton explained that Jordan’s form has given him extra options elsewhere on the park.
“With Reece playing so well, I have been able to move Michael Ruddy into midfield”, he explained. “He has played against Kirk Millar, Jamie McDonagh, Alex Gawne, Rhyss Campell, Ben Doherty, Navid Nasseri, Conor McMenamin, Robbie McDaid and nobody’s getting any joy against him.
“I had no choice but to throw him in and he has been brilliant. He was my Player of the Month last month.
“He’s a strong boy who works hard at his fitness. I know he does bits of boxing training away from us which I love, because it brings numerous things to your game, discipline being one and he is disciplined.”