U20 Player Interview | Michael Rose
It won’t be long before once again the clocks go back, the snow might actually stop, the golf clubs get dusted down and we will be thinking about who should be picking up the Player of the Season awards. When it comes to picking the outstanding player for the U20s this season, it will be an extremely different task as there have been so many impressive performers. But one player who certainly will be on the shortlist is Michael Rose…
In the U20s League, the Dons sit in joint second place and have scored 54 goals and only conceded 23, giving them the best goal difference in the League.
Centre-half Michael Rose has had an extremely impressive season and had an excellent match when up against Tony Watt in the recent SFA Youth Cup tie against Celtic. Although the Dons went out of the competition, there were a lot of positives to be taken from the performance.
“Neil Cooper said to us after the game that we had played really well. Although they had a lot of possession we defended well and hit them on the break. It was one of those days were nothing went our way in front of goal. That is certainly not something that has happened much this season as you can see from the amount of goals we have scored in the league.
“I was a little nervous before the game, but I think that is a good thing. Once you settle into the game you just get on with the job you have to do the pitch. Overall I have been doing ok this season but there are always little things you can work on. We thought Celtic would try and use Tony Watt’s pace in behind us like they did when they played Barcelona, but I thought I myself and Scott Rumsby dealt well with that and stopped that option.
“Scott and myself have built up a good partnership. We are good mates off the park as well. We understand each other’s games. It is vital in any side that your central defenders have a good understanding of what each is doing and communicate with each other because the slightest of mistakes can lead to a goal.
“I am from the Bridge of Don. When I was younger I lived in Danestone before moving to Potterton just out the road a bit. I went to Oldmachar Academy. I am a big Aberdeen fan. My dad used to take me to all the games – I remember coming along as a young boy and watching Russell Anderson play! My dad always speaks about the Gothenburg team, so I know all about the history and as a fan, it is a great feeling to be part of the club. As a fan, you do have a different approach to things than a player who has maybe come in from somewhere else. That is not to say you try harder than them, but you feel the pain when things are not going well.
“I played for Glendale up until U8s and then came into the AFC Youth Academy and played for the 8s, 10s, 11s and 12s and then I got released by the club. Even although I was only 12 years old, I thought that was it, my chance of making it as a professional footballer was gone. I went back and played for Lewis United Boys Club and, as I got older, I just enjoyed played the game alongside my friends.
“I had three good seasons there and then out of the blue my dad came home and said to me that Aberdeen were interested in me again. I could not believe it! I was so happy. I played a couple of trial games and then I was signed up again.
“It was a major blow when you think your dream is over at 12, but in a strange way it worked out for the best because I was able to then just go out and enjoy my football without any pressure on me.
“When I got told the Dons were interested in me again, the hunger kicked in; I was desperate to get back in and I was not going to be rejected again. I had remained friends with a number of the boys from the Youth Academy with whom I had played with when I was younger including Cammy and Scott Ferries, and I wanted to be part of the team again.
“I came back in at U15 level for a short time before playing for the U17s. That is a huge year for all the boys as they get assessed on if they are good enough to get a full time contract. I was very unsure if I would be making the step up as I was a bit injury prone, mainly down to the fact I had come back in late to a completely different level of football. Going from Boys Club football to Aberdeen, there is a big difference and you notice it. It took my body a bit of time to adjust. Once it did, I settled in and was able to play my game and show what I could do.
“I was fortunate enough to get a contract. The first year you come in is just about getting up to speed because it is a massive step up from the U17s. You spend a lot of time going home and sleeping because it is very tiring. Neil Cooper pushes you hard but he only does that to get the best out of you. He expects you to work hard every day. He is so determined that every player gives it 100% everyday. If you don’t work hard, you might never know how good a player you could have been. He is an excellent coach and all the boys have a great deal of respect for him as he gets the best out of all of us.
“The coaching throughout the Academy is of a high standard. When I was very young, Paul Craig was my coach at U8s and U9s. He was the one who helped me get to know my game properly. Since I have come in full time, Neil has taken my game to the next level and helped me understand the role of being a defender. Tactically, Neil is very good. There have been a number of games this season where we have been struggling and he has changed the formation and we have then gone on and won the game.”
Michael was given his chance in the Youth side at this stage last season and since then he has not looked back.
“I was thrown into the side last season against Rangers! I was nervous but very up for it as it was Rangers we were playing. I did my job that day and we went on and won 1-0. Since then I have played most weeks but that is not something I have taken for granted.
“Neil Simpson gave me a bit of advice when I was younger. He told me the important thing was the level of consistency I showed in my performances. That is something I have never forgotten. There is no point in having a blinder one week and then being terrible the next two. Before, I was having the odd poor game but this season, I feel I have been a lot more consistent.
“I have two years left at U20 level so I know I need to keep progressing. Seeing Joe Shaughnessy break though this season has given me a lot of heart. It is sometimes hard for young defenders to force their way into the side but both Clark Robertson and Joe have done really well this season. Only last season, and for part of this year, I was playing alongside him in the Youth team. I used to be a midfielder but the way my body developed, when I stared to grow I was pushed back into defence! I am comfortable with the ball at my feet so like Joe and Clark, maybe I might have to change positions when I hopefully make that step up.”