Kieran Trippier was such a star for his school football team the headmaster would not allow him to be dropped even if he was in detention.
The England and Atletico Madrid defender, who played as a goalscoring number 10 for Woodhey High School near Bury, caused one or two of his teachers a headache at times but the football-mad head ensured he always made the game.
Trippier was already in Manchester City’s academy by the time PE teacher Lee Garcka arrived at the school, and it became apparent to the new member of staff early on that there were some things you just could not do.
“I started here in 2004 when Kieran was in Year Nine and our headteacher, the previous head, was a really big football fan and even in my interview he said to me ‘We’ve got some really good footballers here’,” Garcka exclusively told the PA news agency.
“Kieran’s older brother Kelvin had just signed for Oldham and he was telling me about Kelvin but said ‘We’ve got a lad in Year Eight at the minute and is even better, he’s at Manchester City.
“I think he knew more than anyone what a talent Kieran was. Kieran has acknowledged in the past the influence this guy, Martin Braidley, our previous head, had.
“He would often chat to Kieran and make sure he was doing the right thing in lessons and out of school as well. I know he had a real soft spot for him.
“The headteacher would never allow me to drop him if he was in detention.
“There are a couple of teachers who are still in touch with him and think really highly of him and there are a couple of others who are like ‘He might be this footballer but he was a pain in the bum in my lessons’.
“As a PE teacher you have a higher threshold for banter as you’ve grown up in changing rooms and you know how the sports pitch can be.
“There were a couple of subjects he wasn’t into and a couple of teachers he bashed heads with but there was never any malice, it was just typical teenage boy behaviour where he’d rather be kicking a ball around rather than learning whatever subject that might have been.”
Garcka was under no illusions the young Trippier was destined for greater things because he lived and breathed football while at school.
The school team was a strong one, it won back-to-back Bury Schools Cups, but in their Greater Manchester County Cup triumph Trippier stood out with four goals in the semis and two in the final.
“He was the captain of the team, the leader, and he had this sort of infectious appetite for the game, always kicking a ball in the playground, getting the teams organised,” he added.
“Then he would go off to City training and there were days where he’d be picked in the school team and you didn’t know if he was going to turn up.
“What would usually happen was you’d be driving the bus down the street ready to go to a game thinking he wouldn’t be playing and he’d be stood by the side of the road in his school PE kit and his boots and we’d pick him up and go to the game.
“Even though he’d done a full day’s training at the academy, he still wanted to play for the school as well.”
Trippier also had success as ‘England’ manager.
“When the students were in Year 10 we put them through a sports leaders course and we did a mini-football coaching qualification, part of which was to set up and run a mini-World Cup with local primary schools,” said his PE teacher.
“The kids in the class would coach the kids in the team and then have a tournament in the afternoon – Kieran was the ‘England’ manager and his team won the tournament on penalties.”