FOOTBALL crazy Lillie Lawson, who has netted 70 goals in just 14 games, has the world at her feet after being signed up by Premier League club Blackburn Rovers – aged just eight.
Rovers snapped up Lillie after she impressed the club while playing for her Cleckheaton under-eights team. She has been racking up an incredible average of a goal every eight minutes this season.
It is a haul that would put big money Premiership flops like Fernando Torres to shame – especially as Lillie only laced up her boots for the first time last March.
Lillie, a massive fan of the film Bend It Like Beckham, is setting her sights on becoming a professional one day – but for now she is just happy playing the game.
Proud dad Paul Lawson, 36, who coaches his daughter’s Cleckheaton team, is over the moon with her rapid rise.
“The most she’s ever scored in one game is eight goals. It’s just amazing how she’s taken to it. Everyone in the team calls her our star player,” he said.
“Sometimes I take her off after she’s scored a couple of goals so the other kids can have a go, but the parents say to me ‘Put Lillie back on’. They are all impressed with her and want the team to do well. We only started the team in March and she’d never kicked a football before.
“She plays 40-minute matches with the girls’ team on Saturday mornings, but recently I’ve started playing her in the boys’ team on a Sunday morning as a defender.
“I thought she’d be intimidated because they’re a lot bigger and stronger than her but she didn’t seem fazed at all - she took them on and was loving it.”
Blackburn became involved after Paul spotted an advert for a trial at the club’s under-eights team and took Lillie along.
The Ewood Park outfit were so impressed that they offered her a six week trial on the spot.
However, she impressed the club enough that after just three weeks, Lillie was signed up for a year.
Paul added: “They’ve told me she could go far - she just needs to keep up with her training. The next step is in July when she’ll trial for the under-11s team.
“At the moment they don’t play any games at Blackburn Rovers, it’s just training, improving her technique and that sort of thing. But she takes it very seriously.”
Lillie ’s mum Claire, 29, older brother Paul, 14, and four-year-old twin siblings Jack and Evie are all firmly behind her.
Her father added: “Paul also plays football and they sometimes have a kick around in the garden.
“They like to argue about who’s better – they’re always teasing each other.”
Since news of Lillie’s prolific goal-scoring record broke this week, the Heaton Avenue pupils has appeared on Calendar, Look North and Daybreak and was interviewed by Five Live radio.
“It’s been a mad 24 hours, and she got absolutely mobbed when she went to school, but she’s taking it all in her stride” said Paul. “Any other girls who want to join the Cleckheaton team can contact me on 07597 288451.
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