Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts, who is on loan at Celtic, says that he was rejected by the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea as a result of being physically small. Roberts is £11 million acquisition for Manchester City and he is on loan at Celtic in order to get regular first-team football. After having been a regular in the Ronny Deila last season, Roberts has struggled for a starting position and at Brendan Rodgers. However, it has not taken away the fact that he is one of the talented youngsters in the Celtic squad.
The 19-year-old has spoken about the disappointment at being rejected by the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham owing to his physical stature. He is also surprised by these clubs rejecting him given the success achieved by smaller players like Xavi Hernandez and Andreas Iniesta being a testament to the fact that size is not a major criterion in football. Perhaps, Lionel Messi remains the biggest height achieved by a small player in the game in recent years.
The Premier League has especially been oriented towards having physical players, as the league itself is known for being extremely physical. Even in the English division, players like Juan Mata and David Silva have changed the perception of small players. However, youth teams are yet to progress to the level where they would consider a small player over a physical name.
After his disappointment with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham, Roberts received his first major breakthrough with Fulham. He has spoken about the memorable day when he learned about Fulham accepting his trial and including him as part of the youth setup. As quoted by the Times, he said:
“As a kid I was criticised and disregarded for being too small, but he’s showed that size doesn’t matter.
“I was overlooked by several academies in London because of my size — Chelsea, Tottenham, Watford, and QPR.
“Fulham gave me a trial in 2010 and I’ll never forget that day. I’m almost crying about it now. When I got signed by Fulham it was a great moment for me and I’ll never forget it.”
Roberts went on to spend four years at various levels of the team with Fulham before finally making his appearance for the senior team in the 2013 season. He managed to build on this appearance and made 20 appearances in the subsequent campaign; it brought him to the attention of top clubs and Manchester City were in for the player in the summer of 2015. Even though it became apparent that City would not place him in the first team straight away, the £11 million acquisition showed the faith the player’s talent.
Roberts has been only one appearance for City in the Premier League. The arrival of Pep Guardiola coupled with several big names in the summer made it almost impossible for Roberts to break through straightaway. He had to impress on loan at a different club before thinking about a place in the City first team.
He is almost 12 months into the 18-month long loan spell at Celtic. He has three goals in 21 appearances for the Scottish club this season.