It has been a big year for Manchester United’s 15 year old prodigy, Shea Lacey, who has already made his u21s debut against Dutch side Feyenoord.
A string of appearances for Travis Binnion’s u18s saw him score an outrageous first goal at the level and international recognition has also come by way of his inclusion with England’s u16s.
Shea Lacey with a beauty of a strike 🔥 pic.twitter.com/0xfzMGLYfS
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It was here that Shea’s older brother, Paddy Lacey, was brought to tears with pride.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Paddy said, “It was the first game when I went over to Italy to watch him and they were singing the national anthem, he’s standing there with the shirt on and I was welling up with tears just thinking how far he’s come.”
A former professional footballer himself, Paddy also spent time with Manchester United’s academy before choosing Liverpool and ultimately made a career for himself in the lower leagues with clubs such as Barrow AFC and Accrington Stanley.
During his short month with United, Paddy worked with United’s current u21s manager Mark Dempsey, who has now given the younger Lacey his u21s debut.
“It was under Rene Meulensteen and Mark Dempsey back in those days. I was 11 or 12 and my dad was impressed with the coaching. In my group, it was the likes of Ravel Morrison, Jesse Lingard, Ryan Tunnicliffe, a special group and the coaching was great.
“I stayed there for about a month and then I went to Liverpool, so it was decision time, and my dad was saying Man United was the best place for me but I’m a Liverpool fan, so as a 12-year-old, the decision was a no brainer.
“Their coaching was a lot more basic, you didn’t get room to develop as a player, so when my two little brothers were good enough, my dad never allowed them to make the decision. They got taken straight down the M62 to Manchester United.”
A tight knit footballing family from Liverpool, a third Lacey is also vying for a professional career with Luis currently a part of Barnsley’s u18s setup.
Paddy’s career came to a screeching halt in 2017 when he was handed a 14 month ban by the FA for breaching anti-doping rules after a positive test for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.
His contract with Accrington Stanley was terminated and a month later things went from bad to worse as Paddy was arrested at Glastonbury Festival for the possession of cocaine, MDMA, and counterfeit notes which saw him subsequently spend 16 months in prison.
But the 29 year old is now looking to guide his younger brothers to learn from his past mistakes saying “it’s just trauma in my life and I can only talk about it with the boys. I’ve never hidden it from them. They’ve openly asked questions all the way through and I can only explain what I did wrong in my career to help.
“They have seen it first hand., It’s not a story, like when people sometimes come into club academies and speak to you, you’re not engrossed in the story, but when it’s happened first-hand to your older brother, you are.”
Paddy believes Shea has the correct mindset to be successful noting that “Shea wants to go on and achieve everything and make the most of himself, regardless if that’s the Premier League, Championship or League One. He just does everything to reach his maximum potential, rather than falling by the wayside like myself.”
Keeping a close eye on his younger brother, Paddy said “I’m in constant conversation with Man United and you never want it to go to his head, where he starts to dwell on clips and not focus on the next game. Shea has just always wanted more, more goals and assists, to play better.
“Shea is very reserved, quietly confident and when he first played for the Under-18s and got a little half-hour with the Under-21s, I told him he’d have to play quicker. He’d come back and say: ‘why don’t you believe in me, I can do it against anyone’.
“I think only injuries could stop Shea in his career, with his mindset and ability. When I look at myself at that age, both of my younger brothers are so much more mentally mature than I was. They’re just streets ahead.”
While the sky is the limit for young Shea, Paddy is also working on developing himself which includes a fledgling professional boxing career that has seen Paddy continue his unbeaten record yesterday with his eighth professional victory.