Matheson returns to school with tales of Old Trafford
Rochdale’s 16-year-old goalscorer was happy to be back in the classroom, he tells Luke Edwards
Score a stunning goal against Manchester United on Wednesday, sit a psychology exam on Thursday, return to training on Friday, play against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday and chill on Sunday. It will wrap up a special seven days for Rochdale’s Luke Matheson.
While thanks must go to Craig David for the inspiration for the above, Matheson had his school, Trinity Church of England High School in Hulme, to thank for giving him the day off ahead of his heroics at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Rochdale’s teenage sensation was back behind a desk this morning, to continue his sixthform studies where he is taking three A-levels – psychology, history and sociology.
Whether he makes it to university remains to be seen, but even after his magical moment on Wednesday, the 16-year-old was stressing how important his education is to his future.
Matheson was already the youngest player to make the first team in Rochdale’s history but has now secured a special place in club folklore with his volley against United, which took the Carabao Cup tie to a penalty shoot-out.
But he was not allowed the morning off to recover by the school, which is just 4½ miles from Old Trafford.
“I would have been at school on the day of the game, but they gave me the day off,” Matheson said. “I am going in on Thursday to make up for it when we [Rochdale] have a day off. I have a psychology test. I can’t wait for that.”
Not many 16-year-olds would utter that final sentence, but Matheson is not your usual teenager. “Education is something I am very fond of,” he said. “I love it. Rochdale and the school have been so supportive of me. I love learning. It is what I want to do.
“Football is not a guarantee. You never know what will happen. You could be the best player in the world, but anything is possible. I want to have that back-up plan, just in case.
“It is what I do. I go in once a week and try to go in more if possible, depending on training. It is what I have done for 10 years of my life. It is no different. I just play football a bit more now.
“They’re just so supportive. I couldn’t ask for them to do any more. Trinity have actually sort of made their timetable around me to accommodate what I want to do. Rochdale have allowed me to do the A-levels, so I just cannot thank them enough for supporting me for what I have chosen to do.”
Born in October 2002, Matheson has been at his hometown club since he was nine and made his senior debut against Bury in the EFL Trophy last season at the age of 15 and 336 days.
After a handful more appearances in that competition, he also made three substitute appearances in League One last season and got his first league start against Sunderland last month.
An England Under-17 international, he started the 3-2 win over France in February and is highly rated at St George’s Park, despite coming through the academy system at a lower-league club.
There will be plenty of scouts from Premier League and Championship sides keeping an eye on his progress over the next
‘Football is not a guarantee. You never know what will happen. I want a back-up plan’
few weeks, but Matheson is not getting overexcited.
“I am only 16,” he said. “You never know. Touch wood, hopefully I’ll have a long playing career. Who is that for? I don’t know. I am looking forward to what the future holds.
“It’s a special moment. A dream come true for anyone. I am sure everybody dreams of scoring at a stadium like Old Trafford. It’s a historic place. But I’ll be back in school in the morning. I’ll probably have some sort of lie in, but I don’t think I’ll sleep much.
“The goal? I struck it and it hit the roof of the net and my body just took over. I sprinted to the Dale fans and did a knee slide. I thought I was going to go down the hill. That is a special moment for me.
“It will be nice when everyone comes up to me at school and says, ‘You scored against United.’ Most of my best mates are United fans, but me, I’m a yellow. I’m a Norwich fan. My dad’s from Norwich and he brought me up with Norwich all my life. No one ever expects to hear that.”
No ordinary teenager: Luke Matheson celebrates scoring for Rochdale against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford (above), and outside his school after collecting his GCSE results last month (below)