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Irish inspiration for debutant Paul Rooney

10 November 2016

Young defender is determined to 'walk in the footsteps' of legends

When Paul Rooney signed with Millwall earlier this year he followed a well-worn path from Dublin to The Den.

And after the towering 6ft 4in teenager marked his debut with a powerful defensive display against Luton Town, it was clear to see why he was a summer transfer target.  

"To be given the chance is fantastic. It's given me a taste of what it's like to play in the senior side," said Rooney.

Paul grew up watching the likes of Kenny Cunningham and Mark Kennedy playing for the Irish national side, and while he admits their legacy didn't drive him to join Millwall, it has served as motivation during his early months at the club.

"The connection runs so deep and that's why I am so happy to be following in their footsteps."

Lions boss Neil Harris was quick to praise the contribution of his debutants after injuries and international call-ups opened the door for Rooney, Kyron Farrall and Harry Smith to start at Luton Town. But the trio know the importance of keeping grounded.

"We all know what we need to do," Rooney said after the mid-week match.

"It's about learning and building up those skills so you can make the most of the next opportunity.

"I need to work hard with the Millwall U23s, but after making my debut it shows that there is definitely a clear pathway from the youth set-up to the first team. It's so valuable while you're coming through the ranks."

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