It has been a special week for Dale’s youngest ever debutant, Luke Matheson.
On Tuesday night, he made his first EFL start in the game against Sunderland at the Crown Oil Arena.
Less than 48 hours later, he picked up his GCSE results, which were packed with A*s and As.
“It was definitely a bit of a contrast between the two days,” said Matheson.
“Tuesday night was amazing for me, to make my first league start. It’s something that I’ve been working forward to for the last year.
“Then to go back to school on Thursday and get my GCSE results was completely different.
“I’ve gone from being in the atmosphere of being with loads of 30-year-old men, to being back with 15/16-year-old kids again!
“I got an A** in History, four A*s in Chemistry, Physics, Religious Education and Physical Education, 3 As in Biology, Maths and English Language, B in Spanish and C in English Literature.
“History is my favourite subject. We were studying World War Two, the Nazis, how the Wars began, then studied Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the 1500s.
“In Physical Education we had to do three different sports. My sports were, obviously football, 400 metres in athletics, in which I broke my own Manchester record twice, and I did table tennis as well. Then there was two exams and coursework. I love PE and I think that goes to show!”
That’s not the end of education for the 16-year-old, who, from next month, will combine his first-team duties with studying for his A-Levels.
“I’ve decided to do A-Levels at my school, which is Trinity Sixth Form. Rochdale have very kindly allowed me to do that and have been very supportive with the decision that I’ve made.
“I’ve decided to do History, which I love and enjoy. I’m also thinking of doing psychology and sociology, or psychology and maths.
“I just want to make sure that I have something to fall back on, just in case, touch wood, that football doesn’t work out. It’s not a guarantee, you never know, and I also want to be set up for the future.”
The full-back made his ninth first-team appearance for the Club on Tuesday night, and his first EFL start.
He came up against Republic Of Ireland international Aiden McGeady, who has 94 caps for his country, something he described as special.
“It was amazing. To play against Aiden McGeady, who is one of the top players in this league, was an amazing experience.
“It was a proper learning curve for me as well, to play against such a massive opposition in front of so many fans. It was definitely a special night.”
Matheson became the Club’s youngster ever debutant in September last year, when he appeared as a substitute in Dale’s Checkatrade Trophy win over Bury.
“This year has just gone so fast. I’m just so thankful for everything that has happened and the opportunities the Club has given me.
“The school have allowed me to have time off to ensure that I do progress in football. I’ve got people around me to thank in my parents, Rochdale AFC, Brian Barry-Murphy, my teachers, everyone around me.
“Nothing would have happened without them allowing me to do so. Thank you to everyone!”
Dale boss Brian Barry-Murphy spoke of the great example the youngster has set through his achievements, and the pride that everybody has in him.
“We’ve been conscious of the fact that his schooling has been a huge part of his life, from when he came into our environment as a full-time trainer.
“He was off on Thursday to pick up his GCSE results and they’re amazing. It’s something for him and his family to be proud of.
“He’s always shown that application to push himself academically as well as in his football career. It’s an example to the rest of our players coming through our Academy of what we aim to be, and how we prioritise education over football, showing how to the two can run hand-in-hand.
“We, as a Club, firmly believe that the success of our football team, and players individually, shouldn’t be at the expense of education. That’s the way we want it to work and Luke has been a shining example of that.
“His performances on the pitch speak for themselves and he’s a credit to himself and his family. Everybody is very proud of him.”
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