CAMERON McGEEHAN hails from the affluent Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and boasts an education at a selective grammar school, but do not let it be said that he has had it easy.
Obstacles to his progress have arrived at regular junctures in a footballing career that looked to be mapped out for stardom when he first moved from Fulham to West London neighbours Chelsea for a hefty sum of £80,000 – at the age of just 10.
McGeehan has shown his backbone before and must do so again in his latest battle to establish himself in Barnsley’s first team. It is a fight from which he is refreshingly not shying away.
Beneath his respectful and considered responses to any line of questioning there clearly lurks a mentally tough and quietly-determined character. They are qualities not without virtue in his latest quest.
Mettle has been shown before in admirably refusing to be star-struck by the bling and opulent surroundings of Chelsea – unlike some of his academy peers – and electing to move away from his London comfort zone to Norwich City to broaden his footballing and life education as a teenager.
Leading the Canaries to FA Youth Cup glory in 2012-13 when he scored in both legs of the final – ironically against his former club Chelsea – strongly hinted at a serious future at Carrow Road, only for fates to dictate otherwise with his journey continuing at Luton Town, initially at Conference Premier level.
The arrival of Luton this afternoon will represent a reminder of the most productive professional spell of his career to date and also provide motivation in his own unfinished business at Barnsley.
Acquired for a considerable £850,000 outlay in the summer of 2017 – with the Reds showing a big vote of faith by signing him while he was recuperating from a broken leg sustained at Luton – McGeehan has yet truly to establish himself at Oakwell.
But he is no quitter and is conscious of providing some payback for the support shown in him by Barnsley.
I have had moments in my career – and everyone has – where I have had to come back from certain things and I am looking to do that here and will keep fighting for a spot in the team.Barnsley’s Cameron McGeehan
McGeehan, 23, hoping for a cherished chance against his old employers today, said: “This is football and how it goes. I want to make it work here at Barnsley and am working hard to do that.
“I have had moments in my career – and everyone has – where I have had to come back from certain things and I am looking to do that here and will keep fighting for a spot in the team.
“I worked hard to get a move here and it is something I am not going to let go of. I want to be a part of this at Barnsley.
“It is a massive club and I think we have the best squad in this league and definitely one of the best teams.
“It has been frustrating, but part of the journey. The lads have been doing really well and there is not much I can do apart from keep working hard. Hopefully when my chance comes I will be ready to take that.
“But I am learning a lot from the manager and training is very good each day. I am staying patient and ready.”
Tipped by many to be among the League One movers and shakers before a ball was kicked, both the Reds and Luton have provided evidence to suggest that their respective quests to return to the second tier – which fans of both clubs view to be their natural home – are realistic.
The more compelling case is being made by fourth-placed Barnsley, but the hosts will be acutely aware of the fact that today’s visitors from Bedfordshire can move level on points with them if they prevail in today’s televised high-noon encounter.
A crowd favourite during his time at Kenilworth Road, where he is fondly remembered for his technical prowess and goalscoring capabilities and was widely viewed to be the best attacking midfielder in League Two, McGeehan is not surprised by the restoration of some happier times at the club.
After being part of a Luton side who narrowly missed out on promotion in 2015-16, the Hatters secured runners-up spot in League Two last season and have their sights firmly set on their Holy Grail of Championship football with a new stadium in the pipeline.
McGeehan, who has started just one league game this term, said: “They (Luton) obviously had their financial difficulties and a few problems.
“But they have been on the way up and have a good board who are trying to do it properly this time around.
“They have got a new stadium being built and new training ground and a young manager (Nathan Jones) trying to grow.
“In a way, we are also trying to grow as a club with a young manager to take us on and, hopefully, be a bit more stable if we get back up into the Championship and have a bit more longevity there.”