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Learning from a legend

Harry Chapman has heaped praise on Stewart Downing, who he says is a 'pleasure to watch'

10 April 2020

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Harry Chapman has hailed the positive influence England international Stewart Downing has had on him during some tough times.

The players were team-mates at Middlesbrough and were reunited at Rovers when Downing made the summer switch to Ewood Park.

Chapman admits that the 35-year-old midfielder, who has also played for Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Ham, is a real role model to the group, given what he has achieved in his career.

And during a difficult start to the season, when Chapman found himself out of the first team picture, the young winger says that Downing has offered some sound advice, which he hopes will see him enjoy a brighter future in blue-and-white.

“Stewy is like a mentor to all of us, because we’ve got quite a young team,” said Chapman.

“Danny Graham and Stewy are senior pros who have played at higher levels.

“You can’t get more senior than Stewy, who has 35 England caps and he’s just a pleasure to watch in training every day and to learn from. He’s just a top pro and a great guy.

“He’s given me the same advice as the manager and that’s just to give yourself the best opportunity, don’t give anyone an excuse not to play you.

“If things still aren’t happening at least you can say to yourself, ‘I did everything I could and in the end I just wasn’t good enough’.

“But I know I’m good enough, it’s just about giving myself the best possible chance of having the best career I can.

“The injuries are behind me and I’ve got to look after myself and listen to the people around me. Mentally I’m probably the best I’ve been in a couple of years, probably since my loan spell here.

“Since then, I had a rough couple of years, with the injury and with not playing, which I found really difficult, but it’s just having that mindset of keeping going and knowing what I’m capable of.”

Still only 22, Chapman, who made his professional debut on loan at Barnsley in February 2016 at the age of 18, believes that his best years are still ahead of him.

“If you look at Harry Kane, he didn’t get his big break until he was 23 or 24,” he added.

“He really struggled in his loan spells then went back to Tottenham and set the world alight.

“People mature and grow up at different ages. People seem to forget that I’m still only 22.

“I’ve been talked about for that long. I’ve been a pro for six years now, that’s a long time. Some people don’t have a six-year career.”

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