Clarets winger Dwight McNeil primed by Manchester United greats
England Under 21 hopeful Dwight McNeil spent much of his childhood in the company of some of the greatest players ever to grace the Premier League.
The teenager’s days at Carrington, the training complex for Manchester United, would be spent in awe of his idols such as Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes.
The 19-year-old winger, who has now made 14 appearances in the top flight, believes that it was a well spent youth, surrounded by superstars, that primed him for the big occasions.
McNeil, who scored the first professional goal in the 2-0 win against West Ham United at Turf Moor, has already featured at the likes of the Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford and, most recently, Anfield.
And, as the Burnley Express went to print, there was a possibility that he would be called up to Aidy Boothroyd’s Three Lions squad.
“It’s good,” he said. “The lads were asking me if I’d ever been to Anfield and I said ‘no’. They told me that this stadium and Old Trafford were the best ones.
“You could tell before the game, the atmosphere was really good. It’s all new and it’s like a dream come true. I just want to keep going. I continue to look at other grounds that I want to play at as well.
“I was looking at the big teams growing up. I just look at it as another game really and ignore how big it is. You can’t worry, you’ve just got to let your football do the talking.
“You’ve got to take everything away from it - the atmosphere and the crowd - and concentrate on your football. That’s what I’ve been doing.
“It’s mind-blowing but it’s really good playing against them. At the time you don’t really think about it but afterwards you start to realise just how big some of the players are. They’re going for the title so they’re a really good team.”
McNeil added: “It settled me in even more. I just want to play in every big game to help enhance the experience.
“There was Ryan Giggs, Ronaldo when I was a bit younger, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes when he was coming to the end of his career.
“They were a distance away and I’d see them now and again. At Burnley you see the first team all the time which is good for the youth team. It’s better at Burnley because you’re closer.
“All I want to do is play football because I’m really enjoying it at the minute. All you want to do is stay in the team. I want to continue doing that.”