A year ago Luke Matheson’s football dreams stretched no further than a place on the plane when Rochdale flew off for pre-season training. But a lot can happen in 12 months.
Now the 17-year-old is a Wolves player. His goal for Rochdale in their Carabao Cup draw at Manchester United — the League One club lost on penalties — last September brought him to the nation’s attention but it turned out Matheson was already on the Premier League club’s radar.
So now he waits for the next step in a career that has been set into overdrive ever since he drilled a far-post cross into the net at Old Trafford as a 16-year-old with a psychology exam the very next day.
Luke Matheson is heading into his second season at Wolves following his move from Rochdale
The teenager scored a memorable goal in the League Cup against Manchester United last term
‘Every time that goal pops up on my phone or someone sends it to me, I still get goosebumps and the hairs stand up on my neck,’ Matheson told Sportsmail this week.
‘I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling. That night I was chuffed to even be on the coach never mind starting the match and then scoring. Nobody could have predicted this and I am just so grateful. It’s been a crazy year.’
Right back Matheson signed for Wolves last January but was immediately sent back on loan to Rochdale. Currently billeted in a Wolverhampton hotel, he is awaiting news of manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s plans for him.
Another loan is possible and if so that won’t faze an intelligent, grounded teenager who has not lost the ability to keep his career in its proper perspective.
Born and raised in Manchester, Matheson used to do his schoolwork on the bus to Rochdale away games. A year into his A-Levels, he has two hours of private lessons after training every day and drops in to his home town’s Trinity High School whenever he can.
Matheson is a year into his A-Levels, he has two hours of private lessons after training each day
‘I am still on their system,’ he explained. ‘Wolves have sorted me out private tuition but if I am in Manchester or have days off I can still go into Trinity and get a day of learning done. I will still do all my exams there, I think.’
‘I have signed the odd autograph which is a bit crazy. Going in after the United game I suddenly had this crowd of younger kids around me. That day I was kind of a celebrity but it didn’t last long and that is what I am so grateful for. Trinity see me as Luke, not a footballer who comes in every so often. I am just a kid like all the rest.’
Matheson is talking via Zoom from the Wolves training ground. He still looks like a young boy and his dad Rob lurks protectively in the background.
But this is a young footballer with a remarkable maturity about him and his life has not always been straightforward. In the months leading up to his starring role at United, for example, his mother Roz had been seriously unwell.
Matheson owes a lot to his parents for developing his attitude as a youngstersonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker