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Grant Hanley

Posted: Thu 12 Apr 2012
Hanley celebrates scoring the winner v Man Utd

Hanley celebrates scoring the winner v Man Utd

Image by: Action Images

Rovers' Scottish defender answers your questions submitted to him.

Hi Grant. Firstly well done on rising through the ranks to the first team squad at Rovers. How did it feel for you to score that crucial third goal at Old Trafford in front of those stunned United fans to secure the important three points for Rovers? (Elaine Fell, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex)

It was obviously a brilliant feeling. I still can't quite believe it - it hasn't really sunk in yet. But it was brilliant and it's always good to get three points for the team to help us push on up the table.

Hi Grant, I hope to see you as a regular for club and country in the years to come. When did you realise you had the ability to make it as a professional footballer? And which would be a greater ambition, to play in a World Cup with Scotland or to play in Europe with Blackburn? (Lewis Swallow, Annan, Dumfries & Galloway)

I don't know really. I always tried to work hard. I just wanted to play at the highest level I could and I always tried to give myself the best chance to play at that level. But I'm still young and it's still early days. I've just got to keep working hard and try to improve myself.

I think both would be great. They're obviously two very different things and you want to do both if you can. It would be great to play in Europe, because it gives you the opportunity to test yourself against the best players in Europe, which would be great. But similarly with Scotland. I can't even remember the last time we got to a World Cup - was it 1998? So that was a while ago, so it would be nice to do both!

You were referred to in a newspaper article recently as an old fashioned centre half, who likes to attack the ball. Have you modelled yourself or your game on anyone in particular? (George Rowe, Blackburn)

No, not really. I just try to be my own player. I know what I'm good at and I know what I'm not good at, so i just try to keep it simple and play to my strengths.

Do you think it has helped the young players at the club being part of a group that has risen through the ranks together - the likes of yourself, Martin Olsson, Junior Hoilett, Jason Lowe etc - just like the famous Manchester United side many years ago? (Danny Cunliffe, Blackburn)

As you say, in the team here, there are a lot of young lads, who have grown up together and are therefore really good mates. So I suppose that helps with team spirit on the pitch. We've got a good bunch of lads here. We all know each other, so it's not a case that you're stepping out into a team with a group of players that you're unfamiliar with, so I think it does help that you know the boys, definitely.

Did you follow any Scottish teams as a young boy growing up and do you still keep up to date with events in the SPL? (Jack Astley, Ramsbottom)

Yes, I obviously keep an eye on the SPL and the Scottish leagues. Rangers is my team. Obviously they're struggling at the minute, but they had a good win last weekend, beating Celtic, so I was happy with that.

What was it like to finally break that duck and get a first clean sheet of the season against Wolves - and then to follow it up with another one in the next game against Sunderland? Was it something that had been playing on your mind? (John Knill, Bedford)

As a defender, you're always aiming for clean sheets. That's always your goal. So it was a great feeling, but more importantly we got the three points on the day, which we needed. And another three points against Sunderland as well. So it's always a good feeling as a defender to get a clean sheet. It hadn't really been playing on my mind to be fair, but obviously people were talking about the fact that we hadn't kept one. You're always aiming for clean sheets as a defender, but more importantly on the day it was the three points.

Are you optimistic about the future of Scottish football at international level and is that something you are eager to be a part of? (Fergus Alexson, Largs)

Aye, definitely. I've been with the full squad for a few months now and the setup there is fantastic. There's a lot of young players that are doing well, especially in England and playing in the Premier League, which is probably the best league in the world, so I think there's a bright future for the Scottish national team at the minute.

Who are your closest friends in football and what do you like to do in your spare time? (Mandy Hayes, Blackburn)

Probably the boys here. The likes of big Jake (Kean), who I live with, and just the lads I've grown up with, like Lowey (Jason Lowe) and Josh Morris and Zac Aley. I'm quite close with those lads, and obviously Goodie (David Goodwillie). Being Scottish, I think Scottish boys always look after each other and so I've taken him under my wing and kept him on track!

When the weather's nice I like to play golf, so I got a couple of games in last week, but that's about it in terms of hobbies/interests outside of football.

What will it be like coming up against Phil Jones for the first time back at Ewood on Monday? Will you speak to him in the build up to the game and did you always think when you were playing in the youth team together that he had the potential to go and play for a club like Manchester United? (Donald Jackson, Spain)

I always knew Jonesy was going to do well. I came to the club when I was 16 and you could tell then that he was a good player. I'll speak to him before the game - providing he texts me back that is ... he's gone a bit big time since he's gone to Man United, so he might not reply! But in all seriousness, he's a good lad. I grew up with him and so I've always been quite close with him.

When you're in a game situation, you kind of block out the fact that you used to be team-mates. It doesn't really matter. We played against each other at Old Trafford, so we've already done it. It's just another game and you need to get on with it.

I've been really impressed by the youth team's cup run to latter stages of the FA Youth Cup? Are there any players from that time that you think we need to watch out for and how highly do you rate the two centre halves, Ryan Edwards and Jack O'Connell? (A. Johnstone, Samlesbury)

They've done brilliantly to get as far as they have in the Youth Cup this season. I think they've only conceded one goal in that run, so you've obviously got to look to the two centre halves for that. Both of them are good players and still young, so they've got good chances of making a name for themselves in the future. other than those two, I think Hugo (Fernandez) has done well for them this year and Raheem (Hanley). I went to the semi-final first leg at Ewood Park and I thought Raheem was probably the best player that night.

How much are you enjoying your central defensive partnership with Scott Dann at the moment and do you feel like there is a lot of pressure on your young shoulders following the departures of experienced players like Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen during the last transfer window? How do you cope with that sort of pressure? (Steve Arkwright, Accrington)

I enjoy playing with Scotty. I've got to know him well and I'm quite close with him here. He's a top lad. So I enjoy playing with him. We get through it by talking our way through it and we never have any disagreements or anything like that. We're always working hard together. Other players have left, but there's never any pressure put on the players here. I just try to keep my head down and concentrate on the games that are coming up first and foremost.