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Danny's fairytale...

Posted on 15 April 2010  - 12:00

It was the stuff dreams are made of...

Danny's fairytale...

It was the stuff dreams are made of.

A much-used cliché perhaps but the phrase could never be more apt than when describing the Premier League debut of 19-year-old Danny Rose.

The lad from Doncaster joined us as at the age of 16 from Leeds United in the summer of 2007. After an impressive first season in our Academy setup, the 2008-09 campaign was set to be the one where Danny made his big breakthrough.

But the horror of a long-term injury struck not long into it, forcing him to sit out the best part of six months, during which Harry Redknapp took over as manager and gave fellow youngsters John Bostock, Jon Obika and Dean Parrett run-outs in the First Team while Danny could only look on as a seemingly golden chance went begging.

It says a great deal about his strength of character that he returned from the sidelines to end the campaign back in the First Team fold following a promising short-term loan at Watford.

He regained his place in the England Under-19 squad for the summer internationals, and such were his impressive displays at that level that he earned a shock call up to Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad for the European Championships.

So 2009-10 was set up to be Danny's year - but he's had to bid his time.

Despite impressing in First Team training throughout and making four brief appearances in Cup competitions, Danny has had to be patient - until...

"We did team shape in training on Tuesday and I was in the side but I thought I was just covering for David Bentley while he was resting.

"Then the gaffer came into the dressing room at 6.30 before kick off and told us that he was sticking with the same side that did the shape.

"I was in shock and the lads helped me massively before the game by telling me not to be nervous and to keep doing what I'd been doing in training."

Easier said than done. Three days after the massive disappointment of an FA Cup semi-final defeat at Wembley, the hopes of our season rested on one of the biggest North London derbies of recent years. Not only were three points a must for us to keep pressure on Manchester City in the race for fourth place, Arsenal also needed the win in their fight for the Premier League title.

And there was Danny. In the midst of the most atmospheric night at the Lane this season, he was almost going through the motions for the first 10 minutes.

Then, standing 30 yards out with the ball dropping from the floodlights after Gareth Bale's corner had been punched clear by Manuel Almunia, the young man had a decision to make that would potentially define his career...

He explains: "I was going to bring it down but then at the last minute I thought I'd just hit it, and I caught it so sweetly that it flew in the back of the net.

"My first thought was to just run!

"I ran to look for my Dad and remembered where he was sitting, so I managed to see him. But then the next thing I know I'd turned around and Arsenal were taking the kick-off so I had to run back and defend.

"We were defending for the majority of the first half so I had to get my head together straight after scoring and the gaffer shouted at me to calm down. We just had to keep doing what we were doing, keep pressing them and winning the ball back.

"I hurt my knee in the first half and was a little bit tired so the gaffer didn't want to take any risks and brought me off at half-time.

"To play my first Premier League game against our local rivals is a big achievement for me and I hope I did enough in the 45 minutes to put myself in contention for Saturday."

Maybe, Danny, just maybe...