Monday 21 October 2019

Model student Bazunu keeping feet on ground

Gavin Bazunu: The €500,000 man. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Gavin Bazunu: The €500,000 man. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

John Fallon

His career will be defined by how he performs with his hands, but his first few months at Manchester City have taught Gavin Bazunu the value of footwork too.

Living and working every day at the club's €250m Etihad Campus has provided the Dubliner with an insight as to Pep Guardiola's success. While investment is a prerequisite, so is having a philosophy.

The Spaniard likes his goalkeepers to be the first line of attack and City's recent 17-year-old Irish recruit is fully on board with that system.

"I've trained with the first-team goalkeeper Ederson, he's been very good to me," says Bazunu, bought for €500,000 from Shamrock Rovers in January.

"I've not seen a better goalkeeper with the ball at his feet. The possession-based football coming out from the back that Manchester City would be associated with is the biggest difference compared to League of Ireland teams.

Tempo

"It's not as physical really, but the tempo is a lot quicker. Having played outfield when younger, I was quite comfortable with it.

"It's the different types of movements, to get on the ball and things like that, that I had to adjust to."

Bazunu will be able to give City his undivided attention once his Leaving Cert is completed in June. As interest in the youngest ever Rovers first-teamer snowballed last summer, a precondition for the successful suitor was his educational commitments.

The Hoops had sponsored his school fees at Ashfield College and he felt it only right to finish what he'd started, even if it denies him the spells of downtime his peers enjoy.

"There was no point binning the Leaving Certificate once I'd already completed fifth year and was a few months into sixth year," he says.

"I don't enjoy studying, but I know it has to be done. I have a tutor helping me in Manchester.

"My Irish is just okay. Geography is probably my favourite subject of them all. My aim is to try pass the Leaving Cert, to get the best result I can.

"I'll still have the same training hours as everyone else, doing the same gym sessions, but when the other lads are finished I'd still have a couple of hours of education to do.

"Even this week, I'm having Skype classes with my tutor."

This week, he's back on home soil, preparing to be part of Ireland's Euro U-17 bid.

Having Graham Barrett as his agent helped inform him of Ireland's last major success at the tournament, the title-winning campaign before he was born in 1998.

"I've been told about this," he says with a smile. "These are big games, starting on Friday against Greece.

"I'll be nervous because there's always nerves playing for your country," he explains.

"I channel that into passion and concentration rather than being scared.

"My goalkeeping coach at Shamrock Rovers, Jose Ferrer, worked on that side of my game."

That mental strength is evidenced by his rationale for choosing the richest club in the Premier League from the range of offers.

"My aim now is still to play for Manchester City's first-team one day," he affirms.

"I know that will be difficult. I've only been at the club full-time for a few months and haven't been homesick at all. I've been too busy."

Irish Independent

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