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Published 17 May 2024 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Kobbie Mainoo: My grassroots story

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Kobbie Mainoo

The England youngster talks us through his journey towards becoming a professional footballer 

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I played a lot as a striker as a kid.

Until about 14, I played upfront and then I started to move backwards into an attacking midfielder and wide player and then I settled in midfield. I enjoyed midfield a lot. I got a lot of the ball, which is what I always wanted. I enjoyed taking people on, nutmegging people. I still do. I always wanted to dribble. 

There wasn't one specific moment when I fell for football, I was just always playing it. During lunchtimes and breaks I was always desperate to get hold of a ball and just run with it. There was a big field next to my house so my mates would come over on sleepovers and in the morning we'd all go out there. 

I'm from Cheadle and I started out at Cheadle Gatley when I was four. I then moved onto Failsworth Dynamos aged six and I also spent a lot of time at Shots in Handforth. I worked with a coach called Paul Newton there and Paul continued to help me up to the age of 14. I played for my primary school team too. We won a tournament and the final was at Goodison Park, which was fun. I loved school football, playing with the kids I grew up with in the playground.

Kobbie Mainoo playing for England Under-19s against Turkey in 2023

Around the time I started with Failsworth I was also training with Manchester United and Manchester City. I'd played against City for Cheadle Gatley and they wanted me to come in with them for a bit but when it turned into a choice I signed for United. I was with them three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday – and then playing for Failsworth and my school around that. It was constant football.

Marcus Rashford grew up not far from me in Wythenshawe and I properly started following him when he was in the Under-18s at United. I used to watch his clips and then he made his debut against Midtjylland. Seeing young players break through makes you realise it's possible for you. It gave me and all the other kids hope that this was actually possible.

But still, when it happens, it happens quickly. I was feeling like I was ready for the step up and I've had to adapt quickly but I've enjoyed it. I feel like I'm finding my way nicely.

17 May 2024 8:40

Behind The Scenes | Kobbie Mainoo's First England Camp

Take an exclusive peek behind the curtains of Kobbie Mainoo's first ever camp with the Three Lions

My first England call-up was a massive moment for my family too. The Under-21s manager Lee Carsley told me I'll be training with the seniors and then Steve Holland met me in reception. He was like, 'Oh no, you'll be with us for the whole camp. This is your call up.' I called my dad first and then the rest of the family. They were all buzzing. 

I just need to keep enjoying it. That's the main thing. Particularly as a younger player I don't want it to turn too difficult too quickly. It's the game that I love and I want to keep that feeling for as long as possible.