Footballers who played and starred for boyhood clubs, including Harry Kane at Tottenham, Kieran Tierney at Celtic and Jack Grealish at Aston Villa

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Boyhood ambitions

Jack Grealish dreamed of scoring for Villa against Birmingham and he finally did it and he’s not the only one to live out every young football fan’s dream

Jack Grealish dreamed of scoring for Aston Villa against Birmingham and he finally did it.

The midfielder headed his beloved side in front against the club’s bitter rivals in a 4-2 win and said it was probably the favourite moment of his career to date.

“Ever since I was a little kid at school, [derby] games I dreamed of playing in and I am lucky enough to play in it,” he explained afterwards.

It almost didn’t happen for him, though, as he thought he was close to becoming a Tottenham player in the summer.

When he was taken off against Hull, he waved to the supporters as it appeared a transfer was close.

“They [Spurs] weren’t willing to pay what Villa wanted at the time. But the new owners came in and they changed everything,” he said in September.

“It’s not like I was devastated it didn’t happen, though, because I’ve still got to realise how lucky I am to be playing for my boyhood club. I’ve played over 100 games for Villa and I’ve only just turned 23.”

And Grealish is not the only player who has played and starred for the club they supported as a boy, as talkSPORT.com explains.

1. Phillip Lahm at Bayern Munich

1. Phillip Lahm at Bayern Munich – Lahm called time on his career as a player in 2017, having won every major trophy with boyhood club Bayern Munich, whom he joined in 1995. He collected eight Bundesliga titles, six German Cups and the Champions League. He was lucky enough to live the dream and then some!

2. Steven Gerrard at Liverpool

2. Steven Gerrard at Liverpool – Gerrard used to pretend to be Kenny Dalglish and the boyhood Red copied his Liverpool hero by lifting the European Cup when the club beat Milan in 2005. The midfielder made his Liverpool debut in 1998 having progressed through the academy, became captain at the age of 23 in 2003, and in addition to winning the Champions League, also lifted the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and League Cup before retiring in 2015. He played more than 700 times.

3. Francesco Totti at Roma

3. Francesco Totti at Roma – Rome-born Totti idolised Giuseppe Giannini as a boy and was well on his way to living out his dream as early as 16 when he made his debut in 1993. He is their greatest ever player and captained the team to league glory in 2001 – Roma’s first since 1983 and third overall. He retired at the age of 40 in 2017.

4. Harry Kane at Tottenham

4. Harry Kane at Tottenham – No, he’s not an Arsenal fan. He really is one of Spurs’ own and the boyhood fan has loved pulling on the famous shirt where he has scored (at the time of writing) 115 goals in 166 Premier League games. He has become a key player for club and country since graduating from the Tottenham academy he joined when was 11 years old.

5. Alan Shearer at Newcastle

5. Alan Shearer at Newcastle – Shearer joined boyhood club Newcastle in 1996 for a then record £15m. He finished as a runner-up in the Premier League in 1997 and reached successive FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999. However, it’s his goal record which stands the striker apart. Shearer is Newcastle’s greatest ever goal scorer (206 strikes) as well as the Premier League’s with 250.

6. Gerard Pique at Barcelona

6. Gerard Pique at Barcelona – Pique was only 21 when he returned to the club he supported as a boy in 2008 after a four-year spell at Man United. He loves Barcelona and has been a member of the club since he was born, even revealing in 2013: “Every night I sing the Barça anthem because it’s the only song I know all the way through,” though his pop knowledge has presumably improved since marrying Shakira. Since re-joining Barca, he has become their first choice centre-back and won six league titles, three Champions Leagues and four Spanish Cups. He is considered one of the best defenders around.

7. David Beckham at Man United

7. David Beckham at Man United – Beckham grew up in London as a Man United fan and signed for the club at the age of 14. He didn’t look back as the trophies began piling up, but he wasn’t the only boyhood fan living the dream. Gary Neville, his best mate in football, has been going to watch the club play since he was four, while Ryan Giggs is another well-known fan, all of whom came through the academy together.

8. James Milner at Leeds – Milner came through the Leeds academy from family full of fans and was brought up to dislike Manchester United. He even revealed his dad never allowed him to wear the Old Trafford club’s famous colours. “Seriously. ‘We can’t wear red. We’re Leeds,’” he said. “It was strange when I signed for Liverpool (in 2015), actually wearing red. My dad made a joke about it, saying, ‘that’s the first time I’ve seen you in red.’ I still follow Leeds and want them to do well and still have that same feeling towards Manchester United.” Milner was 16 years and 356 days old when he became the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history in 2002, a record which was broken by James Vaughan.

8. James Milner at Leeds – Milner came through the Leeds academy from family full of fans and was brought up to dislike Manchester United. He even revealed his dad never allowed him to wear the Old Trafford club’s famous colours. “Seriously. ‘We can’t wear red. We’re Leeds,’” he said. “It was strange when I signed for Liverpool (in 2015), actually wearing red. My dad made a joke about it, saying, ‘that’s the first time I’ve seen you in red.’ I still follow Leeds and want them to do well and still have that same feeling towards Manchester United.” Milner was 16 years and 356 days old when he became the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history in 2002, a record which was broken by James Vaughan.

9. Kieran Tierney at Celtic – He only turned 21 in June, but has played more than 100 times for Celtic, the team he supported since school and whom he joined when he was seven. When Celtic made it seven title wins in a row, Tierney said: “I think every Celtic fan visualises doing something like this and I’m just lucky enough to live it for them all. I’m making the most of it and enjoying every second.” His family are mad for the club, too. That’s the thing being a Celtic fan, you go home to more Celtic fans talking about the game. You cannot get away from it! “To an extent it is what you want because I’ve always loved Celtic and always talked about them after games when I came home when I was younger.”

9. Kieran Tierney at Celtic – He only turned 21 in June, but has played more than 100 times for Celtic, the team he supported since school and whom he joined when he was seven. When Celtic made it seven title wins in a row, Tierney said: “I think every Celtic fan visualises doing something like this and I’m just lucky enough to live it for them all. I’m making the most of it and enjoying every second.” His family are mad for the club, too. That’s the thing being a Celtic fan, you go home to more Celtic fans talking about the game. You cannot get away from it! “To an extent it is what you want because I’ve always loved Celtic and always talked about them after games when I came home when I was younger.”

10. Wayne Rooney at Everton –  It was with the Toffees where the striker, who idolised Duncan Ferguson, burst on to the scene and his first Premier League strike will never be forgotten. His dipping 25-yard shot in injury-time was the winner against Arsenal at Goodison on 19 October 2002, five days before his 17th birthday. He returned to the club in 2017, 13 years after leaving for Man United and admitted: “I’ve kept it quiet for the last 13 years, but I’ve actually been wearing Everton pyjamas at home with my kids.”

10. Wayne Rooney at Everton – It was with the Toffees where the striker, who idolised Duncan Ferguson, burst on to the scene and his first Premier League strike will never be forgotten. His dipping 25-yard shot in injury-time was the winner against Arsenal at Goodison on 19 October 2002, five days before his 17th birthday. He returned to the club in 2017, 13 years after leaving for Man United and admitted: “I’ve kept it quiet for the last 13 years, but I’ve actually been wearing Everton pyjamas at home with my kids.”

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