GINGER PIRLO IS BEES’ PEARL

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Shona Duthie

BRENT­FORD’S new £1mil­lion man Ryan Woods has been dubbed “the Ginger Pirlo” – and he’d love to have a ca­reer half as good as the Ital­ian leg­end.

Woods started his Football League ca­reer as a right-back but over the course of Mickey Mel­lon’s reign at Shrews­bury was nur­tured into one of the bright­est tal­ents out­side the top flight.

So much so, West Ham had two bids turned down for the high­lyrated 21-year-old in Jan­uary af­ter Woods shone in a Cap­i­tal One Cup clash against Chelsea.

In­flu­ence

At the time the Shrews were chas­ing a League Two pro­mo­tion place and Mel­lon was re­luc­tant to let his prize as­set – who had al­ready been com­pared to the ma­jes­tic for­mer Italy in­ter­na­tional An­drea Pirlo by dot­ing fans – leave. But af­ter play­ing an in­stru­men­tal role in Shrews­bury’s route back to League One, Woods moved one step closer to ful­fill­ing his nick­name with a big-money switch to the Bees on trans­fer dead­line day, sign­ing a three-year con­tract.

“I’ve watched Pirlo a lot more since the nick­name came around,” said Woods, who made 51 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions last sea­son. “He’s a great player, and he’s ob­vi­ously an in­flu­ence, but I’ve got more legs than him now! But se­ri­ously, if I can be half the player he is, I will have had a great ca­reer.”

But it wasn’t al­ways clear that Woods would turn out to be a mid­field mae­stro.

“Luck­ily I man­aged to get a chance in the Football League as a right-back and I man­aged to do well there,” he said. “I played a lot of games there in the 2013-14 sea­son and, to­wards the end of it, when I had a lit­tle bit more ex­pe­ri­ence, I played 12 to 13 games in mid­field and I have never looked back.

“Micky Mel­lon put me in that po­si­tion and I just hope that I can keep play­ing well at Brent­ford.

“I can def­i­nitely bring tempo into a game. I like to get the ball from any­where, and look to bring other play­ers into play and move it as quick as I pos­si­bly can. That is what I will bring to the club.”

Dropped

Woods’ ca­reer started at lo­cal club Nor­ton Cairns be­fore he was scouted by As­ton Villa and Birm­ing­ham City. How­ever, the diminu­tive play­maker even­tu­ally ended up at boy­hood club Wal­sall and he jumped at the chance to prove his worth at the Banks’s Sta­dium.

How­ever, 5ft 8ins Woods was dropped at the age of 15 in an all-toofa­mil­iar English tale of be­ing told he was too small.

“You only have to look at the best play­ers in the world. Lionel Messi is shorter than I am, An­dres Ini­esta is not the big­gest and nei­ther is Xavi,” added Woods, who made his Brent­ford de­but last week in their 1-1 draw at Leeds.

“They’re all great play­ers and none of them are that much big­ger than 5ft 9ins. You do not need to be tall to play football.

“Look­ing back, be­ing re­leased from Wal­sall was prob­a­bly the best thing that hap­pened to me be­cause, since I joined Shrews­bury at 15, I like to think it has made me be­come the player I am to­day.”

PIC­TURE: Mark D Fuller

STAR­ING AT SUC­CESS: Brent­ford new boy Ryan Woods and, inset, Italy leg­end An­drea Pirlo

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MAK­ING HIS NAME: Woods shone against Di­dier Drogba’s Chelsea in last term’s Cap­i­tal One Cup

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