Kieran Trippier: 'If you play with a smile on your face, your dreams can come true'
Newcastle United signing Kieran Trippier tells his grassroots story, as the England defender discusses his family's love of Manchester United, his time at Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, and how he took inspiration from his professional footballer brother Kelvin Lomax
For Newcastle United signing and England defender Kieran Trippier, he didn’t have to look far for inspiration growing up.
In a household full of diehard Manchester United fans, a young Trippier would flick on the TV and see Gary Neville and his brother Phil starring for the Reds, knowing they grew up just down the road in Bury.
But there was inspiration even closer to home, or more accurately, inside his home.
Trippier is the youngest of four brothers and as he approached his teenage years, his older brother Kelvin had broken into the Oldham Athletic first team in the old Second Division and would go on to enjoy a professional career which also included spells at Rochdale, Chesterfield and Shrewsbury Town in the Football League.
The 31-year-old grew up in Summerseat, Bury, and after honing his skills in the garden with his brothers, started playing competitive football at the age of five for Seafield FC.
“Growing up I used to have my Dad as my manager for my grassroots team and a few of us ended up playing in clubs’ academies, so he obviously didn’t do too badly!” Trippier said.
“We grew up on a council estate where there was this one big island of grass so me and my mates, who I am still close to now, would play every day. We were normal kids trying to enjoy our football and have a laugh.
“You would try to pretend you were the players and I thought I was David Beckham all the time, trying to recreate his stuff. But that is normal when you are kids. You want to be the players you used to look up to.”
Trippier believes, like many professional footballers, he benefitted from having older siblings growing up, with just a couple of years between the four brothers, and Kelvin, who also used his mother’s maiden name of Lomax at times during his professional career, four years his senior.
“I took a lot of inspiration from Kelvin growing up. I would always go to watch him train and watch his games and I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Trippier said.
“With my brothers being older than me, it is normal that no matter what you do, football or something else, if you are playing with people older than you, because it is more physical, when you then play with people your own age you find it a bit easier.”
“Football was my life growing up, because of my brothers and my Dad, and now here I am today [as an England international]!” he added.
After a few years playing under his Dad at Seafield FC, Trippier joined Blackburn Rovers at the age of eight and was also training with his beloved Manchester United.
But by the age of nine, he decided to join a number of his friends in signing for rivals Manchester City, where he would remain until he was 21, when he signed permanently for Burnley.
The impact of grassroots football didn’t stop when he signed for City though, as Trippier went on to win County Cups at both Holcombe Brook Primary School and Woodhey High School.
Trippier, who was often his teams’ captain, would help Woodhey High School lift the Bury Cup in consecutive years and in year 11, scored four goals in the semi-final and two goals in the final as they claimed the County Cup.
Trippier & Pickford | Questions
Jordan Pickford and Kieran Trippier join us for a game of Questions. Favourite cheat meals, future gaffers, best pranks....all will be revealed!
Trippier said: “I used to play for my school and then go straight to training with Manchester City after the games.
“Man City were not too happy about it. Jim Cassell, who was the [academy] director at the time, lived in Bury also and he used to ask me if I was playing for the school and I would say ‘no’. But it would only take about four or five minutes for him to find out.
“But that was me. I just loved football when I was younger. I was so competitive.”
There is still a picture of the County Cup-winning team in Woodhey High School’s PE office, which was signed by all the players, including Trippier.
And the 35-cap England international has spoken of the importance of coaches and people like his former PE teacher Lee Garcka.
Trippier said: “In my High School, Mr Garcka was football mad, competitive and he used to keep me on the straight and narrow at school because as kids we used to mess about at school.
“He believed in me, he could see something in me at the time and he always reminded me that I needed to concentrate and behave in school. I still speak to my teachers from school now.”
After a successful two-and-a-half years in Spain, where he won the La Liga title with Atletico Madrid, Trippier this week became Newcastle United’s first senior signing under the club's new owners and head coach Eddie Howe, who also signed him when Burnley boss back in 2011.
Even when Trippier is away from the training ground and stadiums, he can still be seen with a football at his feet, as he plays with his five-year-old son Jacob and two-year-old daughter Esme.
He said: “My little boy is football mad. He wants to be a goalkeeper so he keeps going on about me asking Jordan Pickford to give him a goalkeepers’ kit.
“But with my son and my daughter – because she is always kicking a ball around too – if they wanted to be a footballer, I would never put any pressure on my children but if they fell in love with it, I would be there to help them, guide them and support them in whatever they want to do, whether that is football or something else.
“I would love them to be footballers of course but time will tell.”
The FA run football sessions for children across the country, something which Trippier believes is becoming increasingly important in the modern world.
He said: “Football programmes are important because when I was growing up and even more so now, you see kids inside a lot with the gaming and it is important to get kids outside, playing football and socialising. You don’t want kids stuck inside all the time.
“With my kids, they are sometimes crazy mad for the computers and iPad but I have to tell them ‘you need to get outside and enjoy yourself, play your football’ or whatever sport it may be.
“With the FA and even in my community in Bury, I try to help out as much as I can so people can enjoy football and get them doing activities and getting out and about socialising.
“You can see how gaming, for example, can be controlling and I know people who stay in and play it a lot - and we are not just talking about kids, but adults also.
“So it is important to get people out and about and the stuff the FA are putting on for communities is important and shows how much we want to help grassroots football because it is so important.”
So what are Trippier’s overriding emotions and memories when he thinks back to his time in grassroots football?
“Enjoyment. Fun.” Trippier replied. “You have to enjoy it because it is the most important thing when you are so young, being with your mates.
“Luckily my family didn’t put any pressure on me when it came to football. My parents were just there to support me and they helped me enjoy my football.
“If you play with a smile on your face, your dreams can come true.
“Everybody has their own story of where they come from. And if you believe in yourself when you are young, put the work in, then anything can happen.”