Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Irwin hoping to follow in father's famous footsteps

Stephen Finn

ONE glimpse of Liam Irwin controlling a football confirms that the Republic of Ireland U-19 international is a chip off the old block.

So calm and composed in possession, the Bolton Wanderers midfielder has all the hallmarks you would expect from the son of former Manchester United and Ireland star Denis Irwin.

Denis' career started slowly -- he was released by Leeds United as a teenager -- but the Corkman went on to become one of the most decorated players in English football.

Should Liam's dad ever be challenged to 'show us your medals', the chances are he would impress whoever is asking. His haul includes seven Premier League successes, a Champions League win, a Cup Winners Cup victory, three FA Cup triumphs, one League Cup, one Inter-continental Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

Sean McCaffrey handed Irwin Jnr his Irish U-19 debut against the Ukraine on Monday and proud dad Denis is scheduled to watch his son play in another friendly against the same opponents at Frank Cooke Park today (1.0).

"Dad gives me advice all the time and he just wants me to do well," said Liam.

"He has a go at me when I've not done well and I do try to listen to him. Obviously, I have to consider how much he did as a player himself.

"I've not got many memories of him playing for Ireland, but I remember some of the friendly games in Dublin.

"I was at the 1994 World Cup, but I really don't remember it because I was so young."

The 18-year-old, who is a central midfielder rather than a full-back, like his father, was delighted to finally make his debut for Ireland.

"Anybody would want to play on the international stage, but I never really thought about it until this season," he said.

"It felt different to an English club game. I had more time on the ball and I thought it went well."

After an unsuccessful trial at Manchester United, Liam ended up signing for Bolton and has progressed into the reserves.

The youngster's target this season is to do well enough to secure a professional contract at the end of the campaign.

"Owen Coyle hasn't spoken to me directly, but I got feedback that he was happy for me and said I deserved it.

"He saw me in the Youth Cup last season and apparently he's happy with how I'm doing," said Liam.

Ireland U-19 manager McCaffrey was impressed with Irwin Jnr's display against the Ukrainians.

"Liam was so neat and tidy with the ball. He has a great touch, great awareness and a great range of passing," said McCaffrey.

"He's a light wee cub, but I'm sure he will get stronger."

Irish Independent

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