As the years pass us by, more and more players who have represented County Down are making a name for themselves in the Irish League. The current crop of players have that ahead of them, one of those is current Glentoran player Steven Gordon who represented Donald Malmo Paris’ premier side in 2010 answers some questions about his then Milk Cup experience.
Current Club: Glentoran
Previous Clubs: Linfield, Glenavon
Youth Teams: Ards Youth
Date of birth: 27/07/1993
Place of birth: Newtownards
In which team and what year/s did you play?
Premier Squad 2010
What club side were you playing for when you were selected?
Ards Youth u17’s
Why did you want to go to milk cup trials?
I wanted to go to the milk cup trials to test my ability against the best players in the county. I was also very keen to try make it into the final squad to be able to experience the milk cup.
How did you do at the trials?
In the trials I just tried to keep everything simple, work hard and try showcase my strengths because ultimately that is was you have to do to show the coaches your worthy of a place in the next stages.
How did the team fare in the tournament?
I think we went on to finish 12th overall if my memory serves me correctly. I know we were definitely the highest ranked county team at the tournament which is a great achievement in itself. Our first game was a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool, we then lost 2-0 to Desportivo Brasil at Limavady, the most exciting game was without doubt our narrow 3-2 defeat to Manchester United before we beat both County Antrim on penalties and Tyrone 1-0 in the final game.
Do you remember who you roomed with?
I roomed with a guy called Adam Allen and he was very much like myself a quiet character. He just liked to watch movies and eat sweets whilst I just liked to play football manager.
How was your Football Manager Career?
I was with the Glens obviously and I remember signing Jay Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo when they were late 30’s or early 40’s. It wasn’t very realistic bar the fact that their contracts bankrupt the club.
Any interesting roommate stories ?
I remember being out late one night getting munchies at Asda with Shane Harrison the goalkeeper and Donald [Malmo Paris] the manager was checking everyone was in bed. When we were at Asda we were getting munchies for the physio staff too so as we went to their room we spotted Donald, so long story short we hid in the physios bathroom as Donald came in ranting to the physios about me and Shane not being in our rooms. Unfortunately we both didn’t play the next day, although Shane went on to get an offer from Bristol City he probably wasn’t as bothered as me!
Describe your footballing journey after the Milk Cup to the present day?
After the Milk Cup unfortunately I had to leave Ards Youth as they didn’t have a u18’s team and I wasn’t deemed good enough for the first team. I then had to sign for Linfield as that was the only offer I received. I was youth captain at Linfield and went on to win a Reserve League medal and George Wilson medal. I then spent 6 months at Glenavon to try get some first team experience before signing for Glentoran in 2012.
Greatest achievement in football to date?
My best achievement has to be without doubt winning the Irish cup with Glentoran in the 2015 season.
Who’s the best player you have played with?
The best player I have played with is… Gary Hamilton. You only realise how good he is once you’re on the pitch beside him.
Best player I have played against would be Joao Teixeira for Liverpool. When I say I couldn’t get near him I honestly mean he would be able to keep a beach ball away from me in a phone box.
What advice would you give to those representing County Down at the Milk Cup?
To anyone lucky enough to represent their county just give it your all and enjoy every second. So from the first minutes of your trial until the final game make sure you prepare correctly, train hard, make sacrifices and have no regrets as it is a huge opportunity to showcase your talents and enjoy the like of a young professional footballer for a week or so.
How much of an impact did the competition have on you?
The competition had a great impact on me not only as a footballer but as a person too. It teaches you how to treat yourself as a professional and how to act professionally. It also gives you a great desire to do well in the game.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself we don’t already know?
I played amateur league football at the age of 16 as a goalkeeper as I used to love doing nets. They sound found out I played outfield so then took my out of nets which meant I was playing 180 minutes of football every Saturday for nearly a whole season. I still think I’m a better goalkeeper than outfielder until this day.
Best footballing quote?
TEAM Together Everyone Achieves More. I was told this every Saturday by my u18’s coach at Linfield but I only realised how important it was this season. You only realise whenever you are part of a team that’s not doing well and when you don’t have a couple of players pulling their weight then you have no chance. Leicester City is the perfect example, they maybe aren’t world class players but they work to their strengths as a team and look at their success.
Biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence on my career would be myself. That may sound weird but when I was younger it was so hard for me to sacrifice going with my mates to instead go football training. When my mates were doing other fun things I was going through pre season or getting early nights in preparation for matches. I knew I was never the most talented footballer in my youth teams however I always worked the hardest and gave my all in hope that one day I can look back and say I achieved something. Its easy to be downhearted when other players get picked ahead of you or grabbing the headlines but if you just work hard you never know what could happen.
Describe your Milk Cup experience in one word…
Published by Aaron Agnew, May 2016