HEARSAY

The man who helped make Rickie Lam­bert an Eng­land striker

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - STEVEN CONEY

RICKIE LAM­BERT came off the bench on Wed­nes­day night to score Eng­land’s win­ner against Scot­land on his in­ter­na­tional de­but – but he might not have blos­somed into a feared goalscorer had it not been for Mac­cles­field man­ager John Askey.

The 31-year-old Southamp­ton for­ward joined the Silkmen at the age of 19 af­ter be­ing re­leased by Liver­pool and then Black­pool.

He fa­mously worked at a beet­root pack­ing fac­tory dur­ing the be­gin­ning of his spell at the Moss Rose be­fore even­tu­ally sign­ing a con­tract.

And Askey, who was as­sis­tant man­ager and in charge of the re­serve team at the time, says Lam­bert orig­i­nally came as a mid­fielder be­fore bang­ing in the goals that even­tu­ally saw him reach the Pre­mier League. record fee of £300,000 be­fore mov­ing on to Rochdale, Bris­tol Rovers and the Saints. He may have done things the hard way, but Askey, left, reck­ons the club’s cur­rent young­sters can take in­spi­ra­tion from his story. “He’s cer­tainly gone the long way round but I think he has learnt the game be­cause of it and be­come a bet­ter player,” he said. “Rickie came in and didn’t get paid for about a year so he showed a lot of ded­i­ca­tion and must have had a lot of self be­lief to make that com­mit­ment.”

Askey is the main man at the Moss Rose now and has seen his side lose their first two Skrill Pre­mier games 1-0 be­fore yes­ter­day’s 1-1 draw at Lu­ton.

The for­mer striker says it’s early days for his squad.

“Ob­vi­ously the longer you go with­out a win, peo­ple start to worry,” he said.“But from my point of view it’s only the first weeks of the sea­son and peo­ple could do well to re­mem­ber that.”

Tin­gle

He told Hearsay: “You could see the crowd lifted when he came on and it gave you a tin­gle down your spine when he scored be­cause you could see how much it meant to him. I al­ways thought he had the qual­ity needed to play at a higher level, he just needed a chance.

“I was as­sis­tant-re­serve team man­ager and was still play­ing when Rickie joined. He orig­i­nally came to us as a mid­fielder but I spoke to him as we were short of a striker and he told me he had played up front as a school­boy.

“He al­ways looked like a for­ward to me so he went up there, scored a lot of goals and then pro­gressed to the first team be­fore mov­ing on. He’s not done too badly since then!”

Lam­bert left Macc for Stock­port County for a club

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