Will Patrick Roberts Be England's Next Big Star?
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Wayne Rooney announced this week that the 2018 World Cup will be his last for England’s national team. For some, his departure couldn’t come soon enough — if only because supporters are anxious to see new faces on the squad that seems to never fail to disappoint.
The Three Lions’ flop at Euro 2016, and the changes in its aftermath, have only fueled these desires.
It’s early yet, but Celtic midfielder Patrick Roberts may be one such young gun who may finally bring smiles back to the faces of English football fans.
Although the speedy, clever winger (on loan from Manchester City through the end of this season) hasn’t been called into the senior squad by new manager Sam Allardyce, he has represented his country at the U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels, making 39 appearances and scoring 15 goals. He may already be the best English winger since Jamaican-born John Barnes, another player with Celtic links (albeit unfortunate ones).
More importantly, though, Roberts has shown much early promise on the pitch as a professional. The London native came up through the youth ranks at Fulham, before signing with City for an astounding £12 million transfer fee. He’s made only one league appearance for the Sky Blues, but he was loaned out to Celtic during the January 2016 transfer window for an 18-month period.
In an unusual move, his parent club will allow him to play for the Hoops this fall in the upcoming UEFA Champions’ League group stages matches against City.
And Roberts has already taken the Scottish Premiership by storm, scoring seven goals in 12 appearances for Celtic. Here are some of his highlights so far:
The First Brace, April 2, 2016 vs. Hearts
Roberts cemented his place in the Celtic first team with a brace against hated Hearts.
Brendan’s Bow, July 20, 2016 vs. Lincoln Red Imps
After a disappointing first leg in Gibraltar in Champions’ League qualifying, new manager Brendan Rodgers needed something in the return leg, his first competitive match in charge at Celtic Park. He got it, from Roberts.
The Messi Match-Up, July 30, 2016 vs. Barcelona
Roberts has told anyone and everyone who will listen that Barcelona and Argentina great Lionel Messi is his idol. That he models his game after the Great One was obvious when Celtic and the Blaugrana faced off in a friendly in Dublin.
The Title Clinchers, May 8, 2016 vs. Aberdeen
Roberts effectively secured the title for his new club against runners-up Aberdeen at Celtic Park with another brace.
Although the comparisons to Messi are premature to say the list, the young midfielder hasn’t shied away from them. And he clearly has already made believers out of some fans.