Striker Adam Rooney was on the front cover of COYR for the match against Hartlepool. In case you missed it, here is his feature-length interview in full.
‘Movember’ was on everyone’s lips when Adam Rooney made his last appearance at The County Ground, but the Irishman has more reason than most to be looking forward to today’s home encounter with Hartlepool United.
The striker had been a second half substitute against Brentford in late November before having to wait patiently for his next chance on the first team stage. An unused substitute in the months that followed, Rooney had to wait until the televised clash with Crawley Town seven days ago for his next taste of action. The frontman did not disappoint and within eight minutes of Paolo Di Canio’s call to action, Town had drawn level with Rooney smashing home a second half penalty to earn a share of the spoils. He returned to the line-up in midweek at Colchester United and is hoping for a happy return home today as the Robins take on the Pools.
‘COYR’ sat down with the Irishman earlier this week to gauge his views on dealing with a spell on the sidelines and how he hopes to play a part in Town’s promotion showdown.
This week has been a productive one for you on the pitch with a goal, a start and a performance in front of the Sky Sports cameras. How is life at the moment?
It has been good to have been involved again to be honest with you. The lads had been doing so well over the last few months although it is a little frustrating sat on the sidelines when you want to be out there doing your bit. It was great to get back out there.
There was quite a gap between the Brentford game and your appearance at Crawley. How tough was it to watch from the sidelines?
You hope a chance comes and thankfully the gaffer got me on there and I managed to get a goal too. I know it’s all about hard work and whenever I am on the pitch I will give my all for the team and support the lads when I am not playing. Things are more frustrating when a team is not getting results and you’re not involved, but that hasn’t been the case here because the lads have been flying.
The game at Crawley came in front of the cameras too…
Coming on was nice and getting the goal as well, but everyone was disappointed not to have come away from Crawley with a win. We had chances to win the game but we kept the unbeaten run going.
On Tuesday night at Colchester you went straight back into the starting line-up and played your part in a crucial away victory…
It was a tough night on a difficult pitch but we have been used to that over the last few games. The lads cannot wait to get back out onto The County Ground because the pitch is so good. On Tuesday night we showed the spirit in the camp and ‘Collo’ took his goal well and we dug out the win. I hadn’t started in a while so it was good to be back out on the pitch from the start too.
Did it feel a little strange travelling all the way to Colchester with such a small squad?
There were a few lads suffering against Crawley with a virus but they got through it. The last few weeks have shown just how committed everyone is to the cause here. Even with illness the lads just want to get out there and do their bit.
You started up front but then moved to a wider role in midweek. How do you view the change in position?
I’ll play wherever I am asked to. Obviously I’m a striker and want to play up front but if the gaffer says play out wide then I will do that. You won’t find me complaining and wherever I play I will do my best for the team.
The quality of the playing surface should quicken the game up this afternoon compared to the last three away fixtures on poor surfaces. How do you approach today’s game?
It is important that we keep the same spirit that we have shown over the last few games. Just because we are back at The County Ground we cannot rest on our laurels and expect success. We have to be just as strong and just as committed in the challenge.
Let’s talk about how your career started in England. You came over from Ireland in 2005, how did news of Stoke’s interest first reach you?
I was playing schoolboy football in Ireland and had a call when I was away with the Irish youth team out in Italy to tell me of Stoke’s interest. There were a few clubs after me but it came down to Nottingham Forest or Stoke in the end. The deciding factor for me was Noel Blake who was involved in the youth system at Stoke. He was excellent and convinced me to join them. Noel is now doing a great job with England at youth level which proves what a great coach he is.
You had to work your way up through the ranks at Stoke. What do you remember of your development there?
I worked my way through the youth and reserve teams and was given a chance in the first team at quite an early age. The Stoke manager at the time was a Dutchman called Johan Boskamp who was keen to give young players their chance. He gave me an opportunity and I am grateful to him for that.
And you scored a hat-trick on what was only your second senior appearance for Stoke didn’t you?
It was away at Brighton and it proved to be a day to remember. I managed to get a couple of goals early on and when I came out for the second half the coaching staff were telling me to keep going and to go on and get my hat-trick. Thankfully I managed to score a third and claimed the matchball! It was a great achievement at such a young age and someone told me the following day that I had broken a record set by Sir Stanley Matthews and that I had become the youngest ever Stoke player to score a hat-trick. That’s a record that still stands - I had just turned 18-years old at the time.
You had three loan moves away from The Britannia – how did those work out?
Tony Pulis took over as manager and he opted for a bit more experience in the side. He was after more physical strength than I could produce at such a young age although I felt I had something to offer. Looking back Tony Pulis has done a great job there and he made the right decision. I had loan moves at Chesterfield, Yeovil and Bury but then felt I had to look for something more permanent.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle came in for you during the summer of 2008 and it proved to be a productive spell for you. What are your memories of your time in Scotland?
Initially I had a week up there on trial and got on really well with the rest of the lads and the manager there. Scottish football was a big lure for me to play against some really big clubs and it was a move that worked out well for me. I scored a few in my first year but in the second year under Terry Butcher I scored 27 goals. It was great for my career and I had a consistent run in the side.
Then came the switch to Birmingham City. What were the biggest factors in the move?
Inverness really wanted to keep me and I had been doing well, but Birmingham is a massive club. I wanted to get back down South and at the time Birmingham were in the Premier League and had just won the cup too. They were in the Europa League and that was a great experience.
Last season you scored seven goals in 28 appearances for Birmingham, which included games against Manchester City and Chelsea. How tough did you find the competition for places?
There are some very good players at Birmingham and plenty of internationals. I wasn’t playing week in week out last season but I proved that I could score goals at all levels when I had a chance. This season started with a cup game against Coventry before the move to Swindon.
You signed a two-year deal with Birmingham and that comes to an end this summer. What are your thoughts on the summer?
At the minute we are on a good run and I have just got back into the side. The priority for me is to get as many minutes on the pitch and do my best for the team. I am enjoying my football again and it could be a really exciting run-in to the end of the season.
Three of your four goals for Swindon have come as a substitute, you don’t want the ‘super sub’ tag do you?
I have got a couple off the bench haven’t I! They don’t matter how they come. I have a good record in terms of minutes on the pitch to goals and if I’m on the pitch I have a decent chance of getting amongst the goals. It’s about working hard too, not just about goals.
How difficult is it to get into a game after coming on as a substitute?
You could be at any club and not be in the team but the key thing is to keep working hard and try and help the side. Hopefully when chances come you have to take them.
Today Hartlepool United stand in the way of further Town progress. What type of game are you expecting?
We have been on a good run of late but after a few away games all the lads are looking forward to getting back home and out in front of The County Ground crowd. We want to put in a good performance for the fans and make sure we get three points.