Did you always want to be a footballer?
“Yeah, ever since I remember my first training session at 4 years of age, growing up I always wanted to be a footballer. Growing up where I come from there’s not a lot for young lads and I suppose it was every guys dream.”
Who were your footballing inspirations growing up?
“Being Irish I would say Roy Keane. But as a striker, it would be Wayne Rooney, definitely. A lad at 16 years of age, breaking into the Premier League like he did, if that’s not motivation then what is?”
What was it like signing a professional contract with Charlton in 2014?
“It’s still hasn’t even sunk in because some days I remind myself that my dream was to become a professional footballer and now I’m achieving that. You know, you sign those papers that say you are officially a professional and that’s what I work for. But the thing about it then is that, you want more. You want to see how far you can go. The feeling was unbelievable but I don’t think it will ever really sink in!”
What was it like working with former Charlton Athletic hero, Jason Euell with the U21’s.
“Jason was always great with me and I always felt we got on really well. He liked the way I played; working hard and getting stuck in. In and around the club, people respected his opinion and even the gaffer because he knows the club and he is just a legend. As a striker, he keeps me behind and chats to me about how I am playing but also offers crafty tips about being in and around the box, so he was just amazing with us. I’m pleased he’s working with the first time now.”
You’ve been in and around the first team, you’re still really young at 19, do you feel the pressure?
“It’s just amazing. I mean, I’ve had 4 games this year so far. I made my Championship debut at Blackburn earlier this season and it was so weird because I wasn’t even meant to travel. On the Thursday I was told I won’t be travelling and on the Friday the manager told me to go and get me gear then on the Saturday he says you’re starting! In that split second you just think, “what’s going on here?” but I think that’s where my faith comes into it, I pray about it and leave it in God’s hands.”
What was it like scoring on your debut against Peterborough?
“Yeah I scored inside 3 minutes, I barely remember the moment because I still can’t believe it. The ball just came to me and I put my foot right through it and I tell you what, for the next five minutes I felt invincible! It was just an amazing moment. My boyhood dream complete.”
You’ve represented Northern Ireland at U17, U19 & U21 level, do you believe you have what it takes to make it in the senior side?
“I do yeah. To be fair, Michael O’Neill takes a heavy interest in the younger players because the squad base isn’t huge. So he comes along to training and often chats to me, so I like to think he has a good enough opinion of me. Especially with the fact that I’ve had a few first team games under my belt with a few goals in the football league so it’s just about putting yourself in the fray.
What are your plans for Charlton?
“Well, obviously I’ve signed a new contract that keeps me there until I am 22. I’d love to push myself as high as I can but short-term goals for me are either getting myself a loan move for first team football, or getting into the first team here at Charlton. That has to be my end goal at the end of the day.”
Best player you’ve ever played with?
“Ohh, that’s a tough one. I’m thinking Chris Solly, the Charlton right back. I’ll go for him because when I played on the right wing, he played just behind me and he made the game so simple for me. So I’d go for Solly.”
How did you meet God?
“Well, growing up my family always went to church and they used to take me along. They said until you’re 18, you’re under our roof and you will be coming to church with us. I never really had a problem with it, sometimes when I was younger I found it a bit boring but on the whole it was great. Then when I was 16, I felt that I just needed something in my life and especially when you’re a scholar with the pressure of football, I felt I needed to do something about it. So I listened to my Dad’s advice and just prayed to God to help me through the tough times in my life. Stuff like that works, so I’d say I really met God thanks to my family.”
How does your faith impact your football career?
“Massively. I always think about it and I want to give God the thanks. It’s all about keeping the faith through the good times and the bad.”
On your Twitter profile it says, “My Lord and my God”, what does this mean to you?
“You see it with a few footballers and I wanted people to know straight away that I have a faith. I’m a footballer, I play for Charlton Athletic, but I also believe in God. I just want people to see that I’m a guy who believes in God and I thank him for everything that happens in my life.”
Finally, would you say your footballing talent is a gift from God?
“Absolutely, 100%. I think you’re born with a talent and that’s something that God gives to you to use. So yes, it’s definitely a gift from God.”