Back to basics for One 2 Watch today, as we look at the man widely considered in the media to be one of England’s greatest prospects. Back Page Football takes a closer look at the lad behind the hype.
A local lad, Jack Rodwell joined the Everton youth system at a young age and made his first Under-18 appearance aged 14. At aged 15 he made his first appearance for Everton’s Reserves, replacing David Weir. Then at 16 years and 284 days, Rodwell broke the then record for the youngest Everton player to play in European competition when he came on as a substitute against AZ Alkmaar.
All these facts are well and good, but who is the boy and the player behind them? Many commentators get lost in the hype, it’s quite easy when you have another 18 year old Evertonian being linked with a move to Manchester United. However, much like Rooney before him, Rodwell is more than capable of proving the hype right.
Now aged 19, Rodwell stands at a commanding 6ft 2in, complete with a strong, built physique. Rodwell also packs speed and stamina. Added to this, his captain at Everton, Phil Neville called Rodwell: “The most naturally two-footed player I’ve ever played with” which is quite a compliment when you’ve played with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Originally considered by many at Everton, including manager David Moyes, to be a future world class centre-back in the mold of Rio Ferdinand, Rodwell’s assured performances in centre midfield have led many to consider his future to be in midfield. His physical presence, dynamism and work-rate coupled to his sharp, crisp and confident passing and ball work have earned him many plaudits.
He is not an overly creative player like Mikel Arteta or Steven Pienaar, his Everton midfield team-mates, but he is very neat and tidy with the ball at his feet, his first touch is sharp and the young lad from Southport is comfortable and graceful in possession and seems to effortlessly glide around the pitch with that confident manner that only the top players seem to carry themselves with.
Recently, Rodwell has found himself deployed in more attacking roles and he has excelled there also. Following 2 fantastic long-range efforts against Sigma Olomouc, Rodwell has scored against Manchester United and Hull City. His goal against United may be considered the moment that Jack Rodwell really broke onto the scene. After surging past the United midfield, Rodwell burst into the box, turning Jonny Evans and flying past him to fire home into the far corner. The goal highlighted how Rodwell’s sheer athelticism was more than a match for even a world-class defence.
Just how good is Jack Rodwell? Only time will tell, but for now his performances have been enough to earn him the screaming adoration of the Goodison crowd, the talk of him being the new Rooney, the new Gerrard or the new Lampard and whispers of a prospective £20 million bid from Manchester United.