Barnsley’s Callum Styles has notable role model in Paul Scholes

THE most famous sporting name on the alumni at Cardinal Langley RC High School in Middleton is somebody that never needed any introduction to Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles.

As a boyhood Manchester United fan, Styles watched one of his idols in Paul Scholes in the flesh at Old Trafford as a football-mad youngster growing up – and it just so happened that he would be go on to be educated at the same high school.

Styles may well be known by the amusing and light-hearted sobriquet of the ‘Bury Baggio’ by many Reds followers.

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But reaching the stellar highs of Scholes, arguably the most gifted player of his generation and one cited as an inspiration to the likes of Barcelona icon Xavi Hernandez, who famously labelled him as the best midfielder he had seen in an interview in 2011, is something else entirely.

Fall guy: Bit of a tangle for Connor Roberts and Callum Styles at the Liberty Stadium. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Still, Styles is going along nicely and is on the road to making a name for himself and carving out his own niche.

An unassuming, down-to-earth Lancashire lad, Styles is surely destined for the Premier League if his upward trajectory continues. At 21, time is on his side as well.

Striding out in a fixture in the not-to-distant future for a club at the Theatre of Dreams remains a realistic ambition, given his rise in the past season-and-a-half.

His old school would have plenty of reason to be proud of him if that delicious day transpires.

Derby duel: Callum Styles challenges Sheffield Wednesday's Jordan Rhodes. Picture: Simon Hulme

Styles told The Yorkshire Post: “Scholesy went to my school. Stepping into Scholesy’s shoes would be crazy.

“He had a really good career. Just to get anywhere near that would be amazing.

“I supported Man United and he was one of obviously one the top players and I always used to watch him. I think I met him when I was really young because he had a son who used to be a similar age to me who used to play in tournaments.”

Barnsley’s special story in 2020-21 may have ended one game early and the ticket to the Championship play-off final that everyone hankered for failed to arrive in the post.

On target: Barnsley's Callum Styles celebrates scoring against Stoke. Picture: PA

But, now that the dust has settled, the achievement in reaching the semi-finals can still be constituted as a colossal one, placed into the context of events in the season before when the Reds produced a miraculous act of relegation escapology in the dying embers of 2019-20.

Instead of the R word of relegation, it is respect that Barnsley, one of the EFL stories of 2020-21 have now garnered. There is no reason why another successful chapter cannot be written next season either.

Styles added: “People say we over-achieved – all the outsiders. But for us, we haven’t. We can only use this season as a stepping stone and keep pushing and winning games.

“People respect us now and see our quality in games and when you are winning, you can earn that respect and that’s good.

Going past: AFC Bournemouth's Arnaut Danjuma is foxed by Barnsley's Callum Styles. Picture: PA

“As a whole squad, we had a really good season and it was good to play the majority of the games and we’ve been winning.

“When we win, it is just an amazing feeling. Obviously, it was unfortunate that we have not won in front of fans, but hopefully we can do that soon.”

A narrow play-off exit over two legs to Swansea City was not the preferred development for Barnsley, but the sight of some 4,500 home supporters present in the first leg at Oakwell – after an absence of just over 14 months – left one indelible memory.

For Styles and his family, it was a special night, despite the scoreline.

“My family – mum, dad, sister and girlfriend and my girlfriend’s mum – were there and some of my mates as well,” he said.

“There was just relief to get back in the stadium – to get the fans back. It was the same for us as players. It was such a good atmosphere, credit to the fans.

“The 4,500 sounded like twenty or thirty thousand. The atmosphere they created fitted a play-off game so well. What we all want is all the fans back next season.”

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