Rovers star Joe Rothwell offered an insight into his career by taking part in a live Instagram Q&A.
The 25-year-old talked through his football journey, from starting out with local junior club Medlock, to progressing through the ranks at Manchester United, which later led to spells at Oxford United and now Rovers.
Here is what he had to say …
Q: How did it all start for you?
A: The local team that I played for was called Medlock and that started through my brother playing there. I used to go and watch him train, and then the manager at the time saw me kicking a ball around at the side and asked me to get involved one day and when I was old enough I joined. We had a good team to be fair and won most things we entered.
Q: Which clubs spotted you when you were playing for your local team?
A: There was a few to be fair. Obviously Man United, but also Man City, Everton, Liverpool and Stoke.
Q: You were a Man United fan, so is that why you wanted to go there?
A: Yeah. It was probably between three. I was at United, City and Everton at the same time and I had to decide which one I wanted to go to and obviously being a United fan that swayed it for me.
Q: How long were you at United for and what was that experience like?
A: I joined when I was five or six, and went right through and ended up leaving when I was 21. I had some ups and downs during that time, I left home when I was 12 to move into digs, I moved schools and then it came to a point when I felt it was the right time to leave.
Q: Where did you travel to when you were at Man United and what tournaments did you play in?
A: There was a few to be fair. We went all over the place. The furthest we probably went was Singapore and Qatar.
Q: What was the coaching like and did that set you up for where you are now in your career?
A: I’d say so. Every age group you progress through you learn different things and you try to take those things on with you. There’s stuff from every coach that I’ve taken and tried to remember, and it’s stood me in good stead for where I am today.
Q: Who was your Under-23s coach?
A: When I was there, it was Warren Joyce. I got on well with him. He was very old school in his ways. He was all about hard work and running. If you didn’t do that, you didn’t tend to play.
Q: How tough a decision was it to leave Manchester United?
A: There was interest from a few clubs to be fair. It was a matter of going round and looking. I knew the manager of Oxford at the time, Michael Appleton, who had links with United. And from the first time I met him, I felt it was probably the right place for me to go and try to develop. He said that he would allow me to use Oxford as a stepping stone in a way.
Q: Was it difficult moving from Manchester down to Oxford?
A: I think that was part of the reason for me moving so far away, because I knew I had to start growing up and looking after myself. And I felt that by going to Oxford I was going to be able to do that and I did manage to do that.
Q: How do you look back on your time at Oxford?
A: I really enjoyed my time there. It was the right club for me to go to once I left United. I went there and we had a really good team. We just missed out on promotion in the first year. We probably should have gone up. Second season was a bit more difficult, we had a few different managers, but if I didn’t go to Oxford I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.
Q: What was it like going to Wembley with Oxford?
A: It’s probably one of the highlights of my career to be fair. It was a dream growing up as a kid to play at Wembley and I think there was 80-odd thousand there. To walk out and have my family there, it was brilliant.
Q: When did you first hear of the interest from Rovers?
A: I played against them around December time down at our place and obviously the window opens in the January, and I had a good game against them and the next day my agent rang me and said they’d be interested in taking me in January. My contract was coming to an end at the end of the season. I wanted to come back up north, I wanted to move back towards my family again and I felt that Blackburn was the perfect club for that. It didn’t quite happen in the January, when I thought it might have, it came close but it didn’t happen, and once that fell through in January, it was just a case of carrying on the way I was until the end of the season, to keep playing well, and hoping it would happen in the summer, which it did.
Q: Was that tough when the move fell through in the January?
A: We didn’t have a manager at the time at Oxford. Faz (Derek Fazackerley) was the assistant and he was in charge and he sat me down and just said ‘it happens, you need to carry on with what you were doing and I’m sure the interest will still be there at the end of the season’ and so I decided to do that and thankfully it worked.
Q: How did the move eventually happen?
A: It happened quite late on in the summer to be fair. I knew it was still in the pipeline. I was actually on holiday at the time and I just got a phone call asking when I was home and the day I got home he said you need to drive to have your medical done early the next morning. So that’s how it happened.
Q: What was your first day at the club like?
A: Everyone was brilliant with me. To be fair, I was quite lucky, because the first day that we met up we were actually going straight away on pre-season, so I met everyone at the airport. So it made things easy for me just to introduce myself to everyone at the airport, it broke the ice a little bit. I knew a couple of the lads anyway, from playing against them and speaking to them, and I was welcomed with open arms.
Q: How much are you enjoying your time at Rovers and your relationship with the fans?
A: The fans have been brilliant with me. They’ve accepted me with open arms really. When I’ve played, they’ve tried to see what I can bring and they’ve taken to that. I obviously won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, some people might not think the same as others, but the majority of the fans have been brilliant with me and I can only say thank you.
Q: What’s been your favourite moment in a Rovers shirt?
A: Probably scoring my first goal That one against Derby was special. The keeper just kicked it long I think and Danny (Graham) just flicked it on and I remember that Johno (Bradley Johnson) was chasing me – he couldn’t quite catch me to be fair – and I’d missed a few chances in the game actually and it was kind of spur of the moment, the keeper came rushing out and I dinked it over him. I think the feeling when it went in was one of relief more than anything else. And because the lads had been great with me, you could see it in the celebration!
Q: Do you feel that that goal really kicked you on?
A: I’d say so. I think I finished the season very strongly. The game after that I scored against Forest, which is probably one of the best goals I’ve scored.