Defender George Pilkington talks to us about playing with Wayne Rooney and how he’s taking nothing for granted…
Was it an easy decision to move to Vale Park?
The decision to join Port Vale was an easy one for me after watching the team play a couple of times last season and coming highly recommended by ex-teammate Peter Clarke. They offered me the chance to fight for a first team place,and being a local club also meant I could move back home after leaving at the age of 14 to attend the FA National School.
The team have had a cracking start to the season – has Vale’s fantastic form taken you by surprise?
I didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season being a new member of the squad. We had a good pre-season and the signs were promising but you never know if you’re going to take that into the competive games. Being top after nine games following short odds for relegation, does suprise you but gives you a great deal of satisfaction.
I played alongside Wayne [Rooney] when he was 15 for our U19’s team and he had that special ability to change a game and make it his own then …
Following the team’s great start – what are your expectations for the rest of the season?
I have no expectations for the rest of the season, I prefer to take it one game at a time and hope we continue to play as well as we have been doing.
The Vale defence has been a revelation this season and looks really solid. Is there any reason for this or is it just that all the defensive players’ style complement each other?
I do believe there’s a good understanding between the back four players, but just as importantly we’ve defended well as a team and that’s essential to getting results. The forwards and midfield have worked extremely hard without the ball and that makes our job easier as defenders.
You scored your first ever first-team goal against Barnsley? Can you describe your feelings when it hit the back of the net and when can Vale fans expect another ‘Pilkington special’?
I really was buzzing when it went in its a feeling i’m not used to, the fans could probally guess that by my celebration! I’m not renowned for my goal scoring but if I keep taking the odd gamble I might pinch another one this season.
On a different note, I presume you trained or played alongside Wayne Rooney while at Everton – just how good can Rooney get?
I played alongside Wayne when he was 15 for our U19’s team and he had that special ability to change a game and make it his own then. He’s proven he can do that at the age of 17 for England so as long as he stays focused and looks atfer himself his future’s in his own hands.
On a similar note – are there any youngsters at Vale that you feel may make it right to the very top?
There are the usual names that have broken into the first team like Billy Paynter and Ryan Brown who have done brilliantly, but I’m not that familiar with the youth players so I’m not in a position to comment.
What are your own career ambitions?
My current ambition is to maintain a first team place and prove to the fans and myself I can consistently cope with the demands of second division football.
Do you visit onevalefan.co.uk? If so what are your thoughts on the website?
I had a browse at the website for the first time at my uncle’s recently and it looked really good. I don’t need to look at any of the reports because someone in my family or my girlfriend are guaranteed to find them and keep me well informed!
Finally, do you have any message to the loyal Vale fans around the world who will be reading this interview?
Thank you for all your support so far this season, its been tremendous in games especially when we’ve fallen behind. Its been a massive contribution towards our excellent league record at home, long may our success continue.
George asked for no payment for this interview. In return for his time, onevalefan will be making a donation to a children’s charity in Stoke-on-Trent. onevalefan would like to thank George for taking the time to speak to us.