Ryan Ledson has admitted that there are several players at Finch Farm who he looks up to but doesn’t see himself having a career like Wayne Rooney’s despite him being tipped to follow in his footsteps. He does say that he aims to follow in the footsteps of James McCarthy and flourish under the tuition of Roberto Martinez.
“Wayne Rooney’s a great player and I don’t think I’ll have the career he’s going to have! But I just have to keep my head down,” he said.
In 2002, a talented teen was named in the first team squad for the end of season trip to Southampton by manager Walter Smith. That youngster was Wayne Rooney and with Everton hanging onto a narrow 1-0 lead, he failed to make it onto the pitch and his hopes of becoming the youngest player in the club’s history were thrown into uncertainty.
Everton still had two fixtures left to play but Rooney’s country came calling – needing him for an under-18 tournament and it was decided that he would continue his education at international level.
Fast forward twelve years and there’s an enormous sense of déjà vu for another youngster.
Talented teen Ryan Ledson faced exactly the same dilemma against the exact same team.
He was named on the Blues bench by Roberto Martinez for the trip to Southampton in April but just like Rooney, he never made it onto the pitch. And with only two games of the season left, he decided that England’s need was greater.
And it turned out to be a wise decision.
Ledson went on to captain England’s Under-17s to a famous European Championship triumph, scoring in the penalty shoot-out win over Holland. But of course, the youngster still sometimes wonders ‘what if?’
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“It was a decision Gareth Southgate and the manager had to make about me going,” he said. “They had to decide whether I made my debut for the first team at Hull at the end of the season or went to the European Champions.
“Personally I would have liked to have made my debut, but you can’t take away winning the European Championships. It was unbelievable.”
Ledson says that the first-team are all good lads and looks towards other youngsters who are now finding themselves in and amongst the first-team changing room.
“I probably look towards James McCarthy – the same position as me, the same type of player. He’s brilliant. Last season he was probably one of our best players.
“But if you also look at the likes of Tyias Browning and Luke Garbutt now who are in the first team changing room now and training with them every day. The gaffer likes bringing young players through. He did it at Wigan and he’s doing it at Everton. It gives all the lads in the 21s a boost.”