Darragh Lenihan hopes to have inspired a future generation of Rovers players following a visit to a local community centre.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international was the special guest at Rowdy Rebels Holiday Club, based at Feniscowles Community Hall, for their ‘When I Grow Up’ week.
The 22-year-old midfielder spoke about his career as a professional footballer, before taking part in a Question & Answer session and kick-about with the excited youngsters.
And Lenihan, who met Brazil superstar Pele when he was a young boy, hopes that some of Lancashire’s ‘little rebels’ can one day follow in his footsteps onto the Ewood Park pitch.
“It’s been a great day,” he said. “It’s always good to come out to the local community and just show our faces. For these kids, this could be their dream, for a Rovers player to come in and sign autographs and have a kick-about with them.
“There were a few that wanted to be professional footballers for Rovers, so you never know. I was in their shoes one day, so you never know what could happen.
“I remember when I was a young lad, my local team at the time had Pele who came to visit. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate Pele, because he wasn’t really in my era growing up, it was more Ronaldo or Messi, but I remember my dad saying ‘you’re there with a great’.
“So you never know. I’m obviously nowhere near Pele’s standards, but it’s always good for these young lads to look up to someone. That could be me or it could be someone else, but it’s always good to come into a local school or a little community centre.”
Leanne Proctor, Director of Rowdy Rebels, added: “I want to say a big thank you to Darragh and the club. It’s so nice that the club do things like this for a business like ours that’s just set up. This is our first six weeks that we’ve ever done, so it’s amazing. We’ve got so many Rovers fans here and it’s important for the kids to have their idols and people that they look up to, to come in and talk to them.
“This week has been ‘When I Grow Up’, so we’ve got a pilot coming in and members of the fire brigade and police force, but I think it’s brilliant for somebody as big as Rovers to do this for us. Darragh was a great role model and we loved having him here.”