Harry Wilson: ‘Ian Rush phoned. I thought what do I call him? Ian? Rushy?’

first_imgIn October 2013, Harry Wilson was having a lie-in, watching television in bed in academy digs in Eccleston, round the corner from Liverpool’s academy in Kirkby, when his phone rang again. He had already missed a couple of calls from an unknown number. “I don’t usually answer them but something told me to answer it, so I answered it and it was Ian Rush,” Wilson explains, smiling. “He was like: ‘Hiya Harry, it’s Ian Rush.’ I was like: ‘What do I call him? Do I call him Ian? Do I call him Rushy?’ I didn’t really know what to call him.” FA Cup fifth round: 10 things to look out for this weekend Pinterest Hide Share on Messenger Show Derby County’s Harry Wilson celebrates scoring against Manchester United in September. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters Twitter: follow us at @guardian_sportFacebook: like our football and sport pagesInstagram: our favourite photos, films and storiesYouTube: subscribe to our football and sport channels Thank you for your feedback. “It taught me a lot and made me grow up fast. I’m a lot more confident now; I think I’m a lot wiser as well. I was in a struggling team in League One and I’ve seen how tough it is when you are trying to scrape out points at the bottom of the league. Now I’m at a team here where I feel we play really good football, at the top end of the table and you feel you can express yourself that little bit more.”Wilson has certainly done that. Lampard has emphasised how the youngster has improved his all-round play – that he has more than wonder goals to his game – but there is no getting away from the fact that Wilson is a specialist in the spectacular. His biggest weapon is those now commonplace piercing strikes from distance, having built a growing portfolio of bewitching free-kicks, none more so than his preposterous left-footed effort against United. “I didn’t realise it was as good as it was because it just happened and I was off celebrating. It was not until I was on the bus on the way back here that I watched it on Twitter and saw the movement that I had got on it.”Wilson knows the next question is coming but stresses he did not plan on raising the palm of his right hand, a nod to Liverpool’s five major European titles and United’s three. “A few Liverpool fans were messaging me and sending me pictures of Fernando Torres and I think Steven Gerrard doing it and I was like: ‘I can’t do that, I’m not in the calibre of those players.’ But when it happened, it was heat of the moment and it just came out.” FA Cup Reuse this content It was a conversation that culminated in Wilson being whisked to Cardiff the next morning after being called up to the Wales squad, before making his international debut against Belgium aged 16 years and 207 days in a World Cup qualifier almost a week later, breaking Gareth Bale’s record as the country’s youngest player. “We were 1-0 down with five or 10 minutes to go, Chris Coleman said: ‘You’re going on,’ and then it was a mixture of nerves and excitement really. It was all a bit of a blur at the time and I just wanted to go on, try and get a touch of the ball and work hard for the five minutes that I was on. We drew the game 1-1, so I’ll take a bit of credit for that.”Laughter fills the room, and not for the first time, as Wilson goes on to explain how an under-18s game against Blackburn four days after his Wales bow against Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in front of 45,000 quickly brought him back to reality. But when Wilson mentions that De Bruyne tried and failed to obtain his shirt – now framed on the wall at his parents’ house in Corwen, near Wrexham – the interview inevitably sticks for a moment on that memorable night in Brussels.“I went over to Hazard first and he had already swapped but I thought: ‘He’s going to have a spare,’ so I was like: ‘Can I get it?’ He said: ‘Yeah, I’ll pass it to you inside,’ but because they had qualified, they went straight back out and they were doing a lap of the pitch and we were like: ‘Let’s just get out of here,’ really. I went over to De Bruyne, and he wanted mine, but I thought: ‘It’s my debut shirt, I can’t give you this.’” Share via Email Facebook Twitter interviews As the club’s academy director, Alex Inglethorpe, recently said, some players take the elevator, others the stairs, referencing Trent Alexander-Arnold and the winger. Wilson, free-scoring for the under-23s after being named captain in 2016, made his only first-team appearance against Plymouth the following year, replacing Philippe Coutinho. His next is surely only a matter of time. For Derby, Wilson has impressed centrally as well as on the right flank but, despite making a splash in four months at Hull last year (seven goals in 14 games), he acknowledges his first loan, at Crewe in 2015, was not quite so successful.center_img Share on LinkedIn Topics Share on Pinterest Liverpool The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Share on Facebook Derby County Share on Twitter Championship Share on WhatsApp Quick guide Follow Guardian sport on social media Wilson’s journey with Wales helps punctuate his early career, from the shock of that debut to waiting 1,619 days to win his next cap. At Euro 2016 Wilson was among the 10,000-plus Wales fans in Bordeaux watching the Group A opener against Slovakia. These days he is 21 years old, a staple of Ryan Giggs’s squad and lighting up the Championship on loan at Derby County, who take on Brighton in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.He makes smashing company at the club’s Moor Farm training base. Wilson is refreshingly humble and politely knocks at the door before beginning a candid conversation that takes in how he has developed under Frank Lampard, a text from Jürgen Klopp after his exquisite free-kick at Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, the subsequent five-fingered salute and how, with the help of the club nutritionist Andreas Kasper, a fortnightly Masterchef challenge at the house in which Wilson lives with Mason Mount keeps any competition healthy. The housemates take it in turns to do the weekly shop at Tesco, play Fortnite and make use of the gym in a property that the former Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant used to call home.There has been plenty of noise around Wilson more or less ever since he signed for Liverpool’s under-nines. Others spotted his talent earlier, his grandad netting £125,000 after placing a £50 bet on Wilson playing for his country while he was a toddler. Up until the age of 16, when Wilson moved into digs with Ryan Kent, he was ferried to and from training from north Wales by his mother, Nicola, and father, Mark, as well as by both sets of grandparents. “I think it was 63 miles door to door,” he says. “Monday, Wednesday and Friday until I was 12, then four times a week and then five times a week. It was a massive commitment. Without my mum, dad and my grandparents it wouldn’t have been possible to get where I am now.” He has been associated with Liverpool since the age of eight and Wilson says the city feels like his “second home”. Read more Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images Europe Wales Was this helpful?last_img

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