Just three years after lifting the Manchester Premier Cup in front of the Radcliffe Borough faithful, Craig Dawson last night completed one of the most accomplished feats possible as he scored for England Under 21’s against Azerbaijan, writes James Heyes.
Craig, who now plays for West Bromwich Albion, has already had a glittering start to his career, joining the Premier League club from Rochdale last summer.
In his 75 games and 15 goals for Radcliffe, Dawson claimed the Player,Young Player and Supporters Player of the Year in his debut season, as well as helping the club win the Manchester Premier Cup against Hyde United and a Runners Up Medal in the League President’s Cup in 2008 against FC United.
His performance during his first professional contract at Spotland saw him score ten goals in all competitions, and help The Dale finally escape the basement division, and was rewarded with the League 2 Player of the Year award.
During the summer of 2010, he was sold to West Bromwich but loaned instantly back to Rochdale, and again proved to be a keystone player. Dawson scored 11 goals, one of which ironically came against FC United during their FA Cup 1st Round Tie.
This season has seen Craig continue to make the rise, as he was chosen as a unused substitute in West Brom’s opening Game versus Manchester United, and made his full debut for the Baggies in their 4-1 win over Bournemouth in the Carling Cup.
His performance had clearly impressed Stuart Pearce as he was included in his 23 man selection for this weeks Under 21’s Euro 2013 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Israel, along with such names as Henri Lansbury, Jordan Henderson, Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Given a starting spot last night, it only took four minutes for Dawson to make a impact as a Henri Lansbury corner kick saw him make a trademark header to give England the lead.
He then capped off the 6-0 rout on the 90th minute, scoring his secont to earn him the Man of the Match award.
Before the match took place, Bernard Manning Junior, the club's Majority Shareholder, spoke about Craig’s rise from grassroots to glory:
“It is fantastic news for Craig and also his family and it goes without saying we are all very proud of him. It is easy to say now but having watched him it was not a gamble when I first brought him to the club, he just needed pointing in the right direction and coached he certainly got that via Kevin. It just goes to show how amazing football can be in two years from Radcliffe to England fantastic!!”
Managing Director Dave Chalmers added:
“Kevin has already spoken to Craig to congratulate him on his call up on behalf of everyone at the club and Craig is naturally excited and still waiting for it to sink in. Although I never saw him play, just listening to Kevin and Bernard it seems he has a good head on his shoulders, takes everything in his stride and is a committed, dedicated player who never forgets his roots and of course he obviously has the talent, we wish him well and look forward to him being named in the full squad.”
James Heyes, the club’s social media admin, also commented on Craig’s efforts:
”I am still amazed on how Craig has advanced though the ranks of the game. It is hard to believe that only 3 years ago he was scoring in front of 200 people at Stainton Park and now he has done the same at International Level. This is not just a achievement for himself, but is for every young player at any level of the game, as a new shinning role model.”