Crewe Alexandra’s latest academy star Luke Offord believes he has proved himself worthy of his first team opportunity.
The 20-year-old was introduced to the team in January as the season-long injury crisis met a breaking point for manager David Artell. Not even the loan signing of Michael Nottingham was enough to cover the holes left by Eddie Nolan, Nicky Hunt and Oliver Lancashire.
Offord made his first team debut in a 2-0 win against Leyton Orient after returning from a month-long loan with Nantwich Town. Crewe then went on to win four of their next six games with Offord lining up in defence; only losing once in his nine appearances.
“I think it’s gone quite well,” said Offord when asked about his first team experience so far. “There has been a lot of Saturday-Tuesday games so I made a lot of appearances quickly.
“I think I’ve only lost one in nine appearances so I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve not made many mistakes, I feel like I’ve done alright.
“I’ve dealt with the step up really well, the players are a lot tougher but I’ve dealt with the pressure really well. The team’s been doing well all season so it eased the nerves, when you’re playing in a good team you feel like you can beat anybody.
“The lads said that it was unusual for a League Two centre half to be this young; most centre-backs in this league are old with experience but I’ve done good.”
Gaffer: “I said to Luke Offord after the game ‘how are you finding this professional football lark?’
He replied that “it’s easy gaffer!”
“It was all tongue in cheek but what a performance from the young lad. He was immense again for us.” #CreweAlex
— Crewe Alexandra F.C. (@crewealexfc) February 1, 2020
In nine appearances Offord has only conceded 12 fouls winning eight in the process. The defender has continued his discipline by only receiving two yellow cards in the 800 plus minutes he has participated in.
Despite his young age and inexperience at a senior level, Offord has provided his own advice to those who are looking to make the impact that he has.
He said: “With any young player, when you get that chance you’ve got to take it. Keep playing well and focus on staying in the team. Make sure the manager keeps picking you to continue to get the chances to show everyone what you can do.
“When I was recalled from Nantwich I didn’t expect to be playing but the opportunity came about and I never looked back.
“It’s good to have a helping hand from your teamates and Nottingham has been that for me. He’s always talking to me in the changing room and on the pitch, giving me advice and helping me out.”
The Reaseheath training ground has seen many famous faces pass through its academy, including Dean Ashton, Robbie Savage and David Platt, who scored one of England’s most famous goals at Italia 90′. This volley against Belgium would send England in to the quater-finals.