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I want to be better than dad, says Accrington Stanley striker
AFTER one of the most memorable weeks of his career so far, Accrington Stanley striker James Gray has set himself one target – to be better than his dad Phil.
Gray’s father played with Stanley boss Paul Cook at Burnley and had longer spells with Sunderland, Luton and Oxford.
Born in Belfast, he collected 26 caps for his country but son James scored his first goal for Northern Ireland under 21s last week and followed it up by coming off the bench to find the net on his Stanley debut in Tuesday’s 2-0 home win over Port Vale.
The 20-year-old, who grew up in the north east and celebrated his midweek goal with a celebration paying tribute to the television programme Geordie Shore, has been nicknamed ‘Trigger’ by his team-mates after the character in Only Fools and Horses.
But, with Stanley bidding to make it three wins out of three when they host Exeter City tomorrow, Gray is hoping to prove a lethal marksman in League Two as he attempts to emulate his father’s career.
“He wasn’t at the game against Port Vale but he texted me after-wards to say ‘Get in there son’,” said James, who joined Stanley in the summer after spells with Darlington and Kettering last summer.
“My dad played for numerous clubs – Sunderland, Burnley, he went on loan at Fulham, played for Oxford, started at Tottenham, had spells in France and Holland and got 26 caps for Northern Ireland so hopefully I can follow in his footsteps and be better than him!
“He always says, ‘You’re not as good as me’ and it’s pressure.
“When I came the first thing the gaffer said, ‘Your dad was a great player’.
“And the under 21s manager (Steve Robinson) played with my dad and was saying he was a fantastic player, so hopefully I can be better than him.
“He does help me and you are a bit down when you don’t start so he was just telling me, ‘Don’t worry you’ll get your chance and as soon as you do you’ve got to take it’. I did that.
“The gaffer played with my dad at Burnley and we have similar traits so I think he knows what I can do and what my dad did.
“My dad told me that the gaffer’s a football man and he’ll want to play football, but he’s not big on running!
“He’s having a laugh though because we ran so much in pre-season!”