Matt’s Monologue: Cresswell Gets England Chance

I was thrilled to see Aaron Cresswell given his first call up to the England squad this week, a replacement for Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater who had to pull out due to injury.

As many of you will know, the left-back is a product of the club’s academy, making his first team debut in a game at MK Dons on November 1st 2008.

Ronnie Moore was the manager back then, a man not exactly renowned for giving youth players a chance during his time at Prenton Park.

But Cresswell put in an impressive display at Stadium MK, and he went on to make a further 13 appearances that season, scoring his first goal in a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers.

Aaron was always a player with plenty of talent during his time with the club.

He did not actually become a first team regular until Les Parry took charge, and it is a mark of how impressive he was that he displaced Zoumana Bakayogo to take the left-back spot.

The one thing that always stood out was his ability with the dead ball. He scored some quite sublime free-kicks whilst with the club, including a last minute effort at Dagenham which earned a point in a 2-2 draw.

I actually remember seeing him play in a reserve game, funnily enough against Chester, before he broke into the first team.

For me, his talent became apparent then as he netted one of the most remarkable goals I’ve ever seen at Prenton Park.

Taking a free-kick on the Borough Road side of the ground, right by the touchline, Cresswell was probably 45-50 yards from goal.

But upon looking up, he caught the goalkeeper off his line and slammed a perfect shot into the top corner. If Lionel Messi had been the taker, it would have been replayed over and over again on TV.

What has taken a few people by surprise is just how much Aaron has improved since he left the club.

Some supporters did not think he was good enough even for the Championship when he joined Ipswich in 2011.

But he was so impressive for Mick McCarthy’s side that just three years later, he was making a big money move to West Ham, stepping up to the Premier League for the first time.

Of course, Cresswell is not the first person to make such a jump to the top flight after leaving the club.

Jason Koumas, Ryan Taylor and Alan Mahon all made it to such a level, as did several other stars going back into the 1990s and earlier.

But few have gone on to win international honours, so it really would be wonderful to see Aaron make his England debut (of course, he may by now have done so by playing against Scotland last night!).

It is also a tribute to the phenomenal work done by Tranmere’s coaches and academy staff down the years – and shows that even if you start at a lower league club, you can make it to the top.

Hopefully Aaron Cresswell goes on to be a lesson to all parents and kids if they are ever lucky enough to decide which club they play for at a young age.

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