MORE LAM­BERTS ARE OUT THERE!

Rick­etts: Oth­ers just need a chance

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

WOLVES skip­per Sam Rick­etts says Rickie Lam­bert’s fairy­tale Eng­land de­but struck a blow for ev­ery un­sung hero in the Football League – and be­yond.

Lam­bert had never played above League One un­til two years ago, turn­ing out for the likes of Mac­cles­field, Rochdale and Bris­tol Rovers.

But, af­ter bag­ging 15 Pre­mier League goals for Southamp­ton last term, the 31-year-old was called up by Eng­land and on Wed­nes­day scored the win­ner against Scot­land with his very first touch in in­ter­na­tional football.

Like Lam­bert, Rick­etts started at the bot­tom, play­ing for AFC Telford in the Con­fer­ence be­fore work­ing his way up to the Pre­mier League. And he is con­vinced that more play­ers could do the same given half a chance.

“You see Rickie scor­ing for Eng­land and ev­ery­body says it is Roy of the Rovers stuff,” says Rick­etts, also 31.

Sac­ri­fices

“It is too – a fan­tas­tic story be­cause it’s so rare. But maybe it shouldn’t be be­cause there are plenty of play­ers like Rickie who just need a chance.

“Look at Swansea, who went right through the di­vi­sions. Some­one like Leon Brit­ton gets plau­dits right across Europe for the way he sits in front of the back four and dic­tates play. But he was do­ing that just as well in League Two a few years ago.

“The man­ager here, Kenny Jack­ett, al­ways says that ev­ery player has got Cham­pi­onship per­for­mances in him. What mat­ters is how of­ten they pro­duce them, and it’s the same with the Pre­mier League.

“It comes down to a num­ber of fac­tors. Con­fi­dence, con­sis­tency, how much a player re­ally wants it – is he will­ing to make the sac­ri­fices to play at the top?

“There’s also a huge amount of luck in­volved and I feel hugely for­tu­nate to have gone through all five leagues in six years. But if I can do that, so can any­one.”

Talk­ing of un­sung heroes, Rick­etts also feels Wolves boss Kenny Jack­ett, be­low, should be ply­ing his trade far higher than League One.

“Kenny gave me my big chance when he took me to Swansea from Telford,” says Rick­etts, who also played for Hull and Bolton be­fore join­ing Wolves in the sum­mer.

“I’ve kept in con­tact with him ever since and I’ve al­ways wanted to work with him again. I just love the way he car­ries him­self and speaks so hon­estly.

“It bugs me that in the world we live in, you can get a long way just by talk­ing the talk. But peo­ple who just knuckle down and do a great job – like Kenny – too of­ten get over­looked.

“He’s was fan­tas­tic at Mill­wall. Just to keep them up on the bud­get he’s had would have been an an­nual over­achieve­ment. But the fact he’s had them up in the top six and around mid-ta­ble just shows you what a great job he’s done.

Clear-out

“I think he’s been very un­for­tu­nate not be poached by a big­ger club, but their loss is def­i­nitely our gain. Wolves have done a great bit of busi­ness get­ting him in.”

It’s been a tough few sea­sons for the Mo­lineux out­fit, with suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tions turn­ing fans against play­ers still earn­ing Pre­mier League cash. But af­ter a sum­mer clear out – and last week­end’s 4-0 win over Gilling­ham – Rick­etts be­lieves the crowd are back on side.

“It’s a new man­ager and a new side,” he adds. “Only two of the play­ers who played in the fi­nal game of last sea­son started the first one of this, so that tells you what’s been hap­pen­ing over the sum­mer.

“Of the 24-man squad, I think 16 have come through the acad­emy. The fans see a young, lo­cal side rep­re­sent­ing them ev­ery week, try­ing their hard­est. I think that’s given the fans some op­ti­mism for the first time in a while.”

GOLDEN TOUCH: Rickie Lam­bert scores fro Englamnd against Scot­land WORKED HIS WAY UP: Sam Rick­etts on the ball for Wolves

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