I tried to model my game on Wayne Rooney – admits Hull City star

Possessing a Manchester United sporting link in his family, the identities of the two players who Hull City striker Keane Lewis-Potter looked up to in his formative years should come as no surprise.

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney. Picture: Tony Johnson

One of them, among the most decorated footballers of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo, has just returned to Old Trafford to apply gloss to a stellar career.

But it is the other who now operates in Championship circles – albeit on the touchline and not the pitch these days – in Wayne Rooney who had the biggest impact on the young Lewis-Potter.

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Rooney was an untamed, explosive and instinctive football prodigy who always wore his heart on his sleeve.

Hull Cty's Keane Lewis-Potter. Picture: Tony Johnson

He was the ultimate ‘street footballer’ who played for his boyhood heroes in Everton before moving to one of the biggest clubs in world football in United and his on-pitch emotions invariably came to the fore. For good and bad – whenever he scored a goal, got into a tangle with an opponent or missed an opportunity he should have taken.

Like Rooney, Lewis-Potter – whose relative Kevin Lewis was on the books of United in the early 1970s before moving to Stoke City and then Crewe Alexandra – can express his frustration when something does not go right.

It is something that the Hull-born player is the first to acknowledge.

Over the years, Rooney learned to manage that as Lewis-Potter surely will as well as he continues to step out for his hometown club which invariably brings added pressure with it.

After starting the season with goals in successive matches in the Championship and Carabao Cup against Preston and Wigan, the 20-year-old failed to find the net in his next four games heading into the first international break.

It is not ideal, but part of the learning curve as well. Young players will have peaks and troughs, after all.

Lewis-Potter said: “From being young, I have always loved Rooney and Ronaldo; who played together at United when I was growing up. It was those two, really.

“Everyone knows about Rooney and he would always put a shift in and I have always watched him and tried to model my game on him a bit.”

Specifically on managing his emotions – more especially when things are not going your way – he continued: “It can be frustrating. But the main thing is not to beat yourself up about it. Chances will come. You can think about it, but not all the time.

“Because when you do that, it is when things start to go wrong. I just wait for the chance to come.

“If you watch my game, you can see by some of my reactions that I do (show emotion). Especially when I know I should have scored.

“I need to improve on that and when the chance does go, I need to forget about it and wait for the next one as it can get into my head a bit.

“When you don’t get the ball after making runs, sometimes it can be frustrating. But you have to keep making those runs. You have always got to be on your toes and moving.”

Lewis-Potter’s sensible and mature utterances point to a footballer who is well grounded and not prone to panic.

City, despite heading into the international hiatus on a run of five matches without a victory in all competitions, will not be caught doing that either.

After a frenetic August played out to the backdrop of the summer transfer window also being in operation, club squads are now pretty settled until January.

Managers now know what they have got and can plan accordingly. There are far fewer distractions.

With key players such as George Honeyman and Mallik Wilks due back this month following injury, Hull will be picking from added strength and possess more in their armoury.

Head coach Grant McCann and his staff and players will also be wise to the notion that returning to the Championship was never going to be plain sailing either, with most newly-promoted sides needing time to find their feet.

Just as those in amber and black proved themselves last season in picking up the pieces admirably from an awful second half of the 2019-20 season, the collective desire to show their mettle in the new campaign represents a powerful force.

Lewis-Potter commented: “Getting relegated from the Championship a couple of seasons ago was not a great feeling at all, but to bounce back straightaway was an unbelievable effort from the boys involved – the staff and everyone.

“We definitely deserved it and winning the league was massive; not just getting promoted. It was the first time in however long.

“We have not had much backing (from outsiders) in recent years, but in the camp, we will always back ourselves.

“You look at other clubs and other people and they might think: ‘it’s only Hull’ or ‘little Hull’ or whatever. But as a club, all together, we will always back ourselves.”