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Pashley: Luck can play a big part in football
TERRY Pashley pauses for thought when asked what he feels the luck-to-talent ratio might be when to comes to earning a career in pro football.
Burnley’s former left back, now in his 20th year as the club’s youth team coach, stresses that a good attitude is essential, regardless of ability.
He adds: “You’ve got to have talent, there’s no doubt about that, but I’ve seen some good lads who’ve never had a chance.”
Luck is an important part of the equation for most footballers.
Equally, coaches and scouts need a stroke of good fortune when it comes to unearthing fresh talent. That was certainly the case for one current Claret.
“I’d got a lad who’d written in for a trial called Martin Riley, from Dublin,” explained Pashley. “I contacted him and said he could come over, because I never turn anyone down. You just never know.
“But I told him he’d have to pay his own air fare and pay for his own digs, because money was tight then.
“A few days before he was due to come he said ‘Can I bring my mate with me?’.
“I didn’t know anything about him but I said yes, and the same principle applied with paying for his own flight and digs.
“His mate was Chris McCann.”
He added: “We took them both as apprentices, but when they came to the end of that we didn’t sign Martin, who had instigated it all, but ended up taking Chris.
“It was just luck.
“That’s why when people contact us, we never turn them down. You just never know.
“Everybody’s worth a look. Some a very quick look.”
Pashley knew they had a prospect in local lad Richard Chaplow. But he wasn’t without a slice of good fortune either when he broke onto the first team scene.
“Tony Grant was injured and Stan Ternent was going to play Joel Pilkington on the Saturday,” he revealed. “But Joel got injured in training on the Friday morning, and that’s how Richard got his break.
“That was right at the end of the season. At the start of pre-season Granty hadn’t really recovered from his injury so Stan kept faith with Richard, and he never looked back.”
Less than two years after turning professional, and after becoming the first Burnley player to earn an England Under 21 cap, the Accrington-born player made a £1.5million move to Premier League club West Brom.
Via a spell at Preston and two loans at Southampton he made the move to St Mary’s permanent on December 30, 2010.
This season, he will be joined at the newly promoted club by another Clarets’ youth team product, Jay Rodriguez – another England U21 cap – who was sold in a club record £7million deal last month.
But when he first come under Pashley’s watch, the coach admits it was almost impossible to predict how valuable the young striker could be.
“All we’re doing when we bring kids in is signing potential and then we’ve got to work and work to develop that potential,” he said.
“Jay had a hell of a lot of potential. You could see he was a really, really good player at a young age.
“But when people ask if you could tell if he was going to be a first team player knocking in 20 goals, you can’t at that age. If I could look into the future like that I’d be putting the lottery on.
“All we do is sign players who we feel have got a good attitude, good mentality, good work ethic– obviously they’ve got ability – and then it’s down to them as well as us. It works both ways.
“You need a bit of luck too.”