The sensational emergence of 16-year old Wayne Rooney was big news back in the summer of 2002… but for one young Everton player it was effectively the beginning of the end.
Nick Chadwick had finished the previous campaign with goals in three successive home matches to really catch the eye of new manager David Moyes, but the Academy graduate knew opportunities would be limited with Rooney in and around the First-Team squad.
“If you’re at a good football club, you’re always going to have good players coming through the academy or good players being signed, but looking back there was never going to be two young strikers playing up front for Everton in the Premier League,” Chadwick told evertonfc.com in an exclusive interview you can hear via the player below.
“On the one hand it was unfortunate for me, but two years ahead of me had been Phil Jevons and Danny Cadamarteri and, when they moved on, I got my chance. Then, when I left, Victor [Anichebe] and Vaughany [James Vaughan] got their chance, so it’s just the cycle of football.
“Wayne got his opportunity and went on to show what a fantastic word-class player he was and I don’t look back on it with any sort of regret, it’s just the way it was.”
Chadwick joined the Everton Academy set-up when he was 10-years-old and he scored goals regularly as he progressed through the ranks.
He believes that the football education he received during his time with the Blues was second to none and enabled him to forge a career in the professional game.
“It was tough to get into the reserve team back then,” he recalled. “A lot of seniors played – the likes of Scott Gemmill and Mark Pembridge – and Gazza played a couple of games for us. I played alongside Kevin Campbell and Duncan Ferguson, so I was playing with and against senior players.
“I remember Manchester United had Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Davd May and Wes Brown playing for them and, for me, as a young player, my mindset was if I could do well against these seasoned professionals then the jump to the senior level wouldn’t seem as big as it would have been without those experiences.”
Chadwick is currently the assistant manager of National League outfit AFC Fylde, after cutting his coaching teeth with Wigan Athletic’s academy. His football journey has come full cycle and so, more than ever, he is appreciative of the pathway that Everton provides for young players.
“I’ve worked with young footballers and there’s nothing like them being able to see other young players get opportunities. Everton is one of the best clubs for that,” he said.
“It’s amazing when you look at the names who have come through the Everton Academy and the chances they’ve been given. To keep pushing players through who are good enough to make their debut for Everton’s First Team is all credit to everybody at the football club.
“When you’ve been in and around Everton it becomes ingrained in you and shapes the person you become. All my football beliefs and my life beliefs have been shaped by the characters and coaches who mentored me as a young boy and a young player.”
Listen to Nick Chadwick in the first of a new series ‘Bred A Blue’ above and hear about how he knocked on Walter Smith’s door to ask for a First-Team shot when he was just 17, the debt he owes Everton legend Colin Harvey and crying on the day he left Goodison Park.