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Charlie Lakin's 'crazy' debut delight

Charlie Lakin on his senior Blues debut.

Lakin, 19, was sent on in extra-time as Blues bowed out of the FA Cup to Huddersfield Town at St. Andrew’s.

BCFC

Midfielder Charlie Lakin became the latest Blues Academy graduate to make the First Team breakthrough.

Lakin, 19, was sent on in extra-time as Blues bowed out of the FA Cup to Huddersfield Town at St. Andrew’s.

And not only was it a milestone evening for Lakin, but he also created history by becoming Blues first ever fourth substitute used in a competitive match, that number being allowed in the competition should ties go to the extra periods.

Here, the Solihull-born Lakin, who signed a professional contract in May, speaks to bcfc.com about his big night.

When did it dawn on you that the Manager had given you the nod and you were going to get on?
No one really knew you could make four subs. He told Maxime Colin to go and warm up and he said he was going to be coming on because it was 1-1. It got to about the 100th minute and we conceded the goal and then conceded another one unfortunately. We got to the 101st minute and the gaffer turned around and he was like 'Don't worry about Max, Charlie take your stuff off’. And within two seconds I was stripped off and ready to come on.

What were you feeling?
It was crazy. My heart was pumping, I was nervous, I was excited. Just every emotion you can think of.

What was said to you just before you came on?
The gaffer just said to me to go out there and enjoy it and get on the ball as much as I can and go and play it. He said you're a good passer, so just go and express yourself and enjoy it.

Your first couple of touches were impressive. That’s always important, to start well?
Yes, it is. Marc Roberts blocked a shot and it fell to me I drove forward and then put a reverse pass into Jota, on the right. I couldn't have asked for a better first touch to get involved in.

It was a little surreal as the crowd was dwindling after Huddersfield scored their third. Did that take away from the moment?
No, there could have just been 100 fans there and it wouldn't have made any difference to me. It was my debut, something I have dreamed about, and a step forward. I've just got to keep pushing on from now.

Tell us the story about your mother and father, Donna and Richard. They'd gone back in the warm from the stands to one of the suites, hadn't they?
Yes! It was because they didn't realise there was a fourth sub allowed and we had used three. Somebody went up to them and said 'Do you know your son's on?'. So, they ran back outside, got to their seats, and I was on. It was a bit crazy for them because they weren’t aware you could make a fourth sub.

As someone who comes from a family of Blues fans, what does it mean to you all?
From a family point of view they're over the moon and they couldn't be any prouder. From a personal point of view, coming through from Under-9s all the way through to make my debut for the Club that I've supported since I was young, is the proudest moment of my life. Hard work started at Under-9s and it's been about maintaining that.

What's the next step for you now?
To get as many appearances as I can underneath my belt. Try and get on the bench more. Even for league games now try and get on as much as I can whether it's a minute or two minutes or a full game. No matter how long it is, I just want to do everything I can to impress the Manager and the fans. To get on the bench most weeks or every week and get on the pitch as much as possible.

The Manager has integrated you and other Under-23s and Under-18s a fair bit in training. That's a good carrot isn't it?
Definitely. I've been training with them quite a lot recently and just getting in and around the group and getting to know all the lads. It's really good because they take care of you and make sure you're doing things right and help you out and stuff. It's a really good environment to be in. Stepping up from the Under-23s to the First Team is a big difference. But training with them quite a lot you get used to it and you get better. It's all good for my learning and experience.

What are the main differences?
The speed is the main one, how quick it is and how quickly you have to think of your next pass and movement. The whole game speed is much quicker. Sometimes it slows down but the constant speed of the First Team and the decision-making and where you have to go, everything is just a lot quicker.

You were spotted by the Club aged nine. Tell us about that.
I was at Arden Forest at Under-9s and then I went to Walsall. I got scouted by Walsall and signed by Walsall. I played for them for about a month and then Blues got me from Walsall. I've been here ever since.

Who has influenced you in the Academy set-up?
There have been loads of people. At Under-18s, Steve Spooner, Under-23s Richard Beale. The younger age groups there was Tom Brady. At Under-18s that's when I really stepped up my game and credit to Steve Spooner for sticking with me and teaching me how to get better in myself and how to work on things that I'm not so good at.

What would you say your strengths are?
My passing and my fitness. I'm a box to box player or I can just play as a six. I've got a decent strike and I'm also good at breaking up play and landing on second balls. I've definitely got better at that recently.

One of Steve Spooner’s strengths as a player was third man runs and arriving late to score. That’s something you’re looking to improve?
Yes. I was getting in loads of positions but just not scoring but I've taken that into my game and got a couple of goals under my belt now, so that's even better.

Which players did you admire as a kid when you were growing up?
Not really in my position, but I looked at Kevin Phillips. Craig Gardner when he was the Club the first time. He’s a local lad so I look up to him where he's been in his career and obviously he's still here now.

What did the Manager and senior players say to you afterwards?
As soon as the game finished the gaffer came up to me and said 'Congratulations' and that I'd done well and just to keep going. When I got in the changing room all the lads were saying how well I'd played and how I deserve it and they were congratulating me and saying I needed to kick on and try and get more appearances.

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