LILY Lawson is only eight years old but she is already making a name for herself on the football pitch.
For the soccer-mad youngster, who has scored an impressive 70 goals in just 14 matches, has been snapped up by Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.
The talented striker started playing football only last March, but since then she has racked up an average of a goal every eight minutes that she has played.
Her father, Paul Lawson, 36, took Lily for a trial at Premier League strugglers Blackburn in September – just six months after pulling on her boots for the first time. And after just three weeks the club waived their standard six-week trial period to sign her for a year.
She has taken to the game so much she sometimes plays in a boys’ team and, even though they are bigger and stronger than her, she doesn’t seem at all fazed and just gets on with enjoying the beautiful game.
Lily, of Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, loves footie-flick Bend it Like Beckham and has set her sights on being a professional player one day, but for now is content with training with Blackburn under-eights and scoring goals for her local football team.
Mr Lawson, a father-of-four, who coaches Lily and her team-mates in the Cleckheaton under-eights team, said: “Lily only started playing for the first time last March, but since then she’s gone from strength to strength.
“The most she’s ever scored in one game is eight goals.
“It’s just amazing how she’s taken to it. Everyone in the team calls her our star player.”
Mr Lawson said he sometimes gets complaints from the other parents if he takes his talented daughter off the pitch early to allow other youngsters the chance to get a game as a substitute. They ask him if Lily can put her boots back on because they want to watch her tearing up the opposition again.
“The teams we played before Christmas have said to me since we started playing again this month that they can’t believe how much she’s improved in just a few weeks,” Mr Lawson said.
“Sometimes I take her off after she’s scored a couple of goals so the other kids can have a go, but the parents say to me ‘Put Lily back on’.
“They are all impressed with her and want the team to do well.
“We only started the team in March and she’d never kicked a football before.
“She plays 40-minute matches with the girls team on Saturday mornings, but recently I’ve started playing her in the boys team on a Sunday morning as a defender.
“I thought she’d be intimidated because they’re a lot bigger and stronger than her but she didn’t seem fazed at all – she took them on and was loving it.”
Mr Lawson said he spotted an advert for the Blackburn Rovers under-eights in September and took Lily along to trials. Rovers liked what they saw and took her on for a six-week trial, but after just three weeks they signed her up for a whole year.
Mr Lawson says that if his daughter continues to train hard he has been told she could do well.
“They’ve told me she could go far – she just needs to keep up with her training,” he added.
“The next step is in July when she will trial for the under-11s team.
“At the moment they don’t play any games at Blackburn Rovers – it’s just training, improving her technique and that sort of thing. But she takes it very seriously.”
Mr Lawson said the whole family, including mother Claire, 29, big brother Paul, 14, and four-year-old twins Jack and Evie, are proud of Lily.
“Her older brother, Paul, also plays football and they sometimes have a kick around in the garden,” he added.
“They like to argue about who’s better – they’re always teasing each other.”