Rooney: The start of something special

Only 12 months ago, Jets starlet Sean Rooney was gracing the National Youth League stage. We reflect an on an incredible year in the life of a young man with great potential.

On December 6, 2008, the Newcastle Jets Youth team inflicted the first defeat of the 2008/09 National Youth League (NYL) season on eventual champions Sydney FC.

While the 3-2 triumph made history for our junior Jets, the day also saw the competition's leading marksman, Sean Rooney, bag a brace for the Sky Blues.

Rooney-s stellar performance did not go unnoticed by a number of watchful eyes standing on the sidelines at Adamstown Oval, and just under two weeks later the young striker made the switch from Sydney FC NYL star, to fully fledged Hyundai A-League professional with the Newcastle Jets.

Almost a year to the day since Rooney-s classy double, it-s fair to say the attacking ace has made every post a winner, enjoying an amazing year which has included playing in the AFC Champions League (ACL) and FIFA U/20 World Cup in Egypt.

Yet, Rooney says being given the opportunity to hone his craft in the Hunter on a fulltime basis is what he-s most enjoyed.

“The highlight probably was when I was a member of the Sydney FC Youth Team and actually got the chance to come up here,” Rooney told NewcastleJets.com.au.

“Now I just want to try and cement my place in the first team, score as many goals as I can and hopefully make the finals.”

Indeed, it was against this weekend-s opponents, Gold Coast United, in round 4 of the Hyundai A-League where Rooney made his starting debut for the Jets.

On that occasion the youngster marked the date with a sublime solo goal that helped secure Newcastle a 1-0 triumph, but despite this and strong recent form, Rooney doesn-t believe he-ll necessarily be a marked man come Sunday-s clash.

“I-m not sure what he-s (Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg) thinking, but we-ve got a team full of quality players so they-re going to have to worry about everyone,” Rooney said.

While the Jets will be without star Englishmen Michael Bridges due to a hamstring injury for the enticing EnergyAustralia Stadium showdown, Rooney says he-ll be looking to utilise the experience being imparted on him by the former English Premier League gun.

“Bridgey-s been around for a long time and played at the highest level, so learning off him is a very good experience for me,” Rooney said. “I-m trying to listen to everything he says.”

And despite making rapid progress in his career to date, Rooney surmises his time playing for the Young Socceroos in Egypt highlighted he still has a lot of hard work to do if he-s to keep achieving at a rate of knots.

“It-s a different level between us and them,” Rooney said. “They-re technically better, so I learnt just how much I have to improve to get to their level.”

Indeed, while Jets fans will recall Rooney-s emergence on the big time courtesy of his two stunning strikes for Newcastle thus far - against Beijing Guoan in the ACL and Gold Coast United - it-s fair to consider his brilliant brace against the Jets a year ago was the true trigger which helped launch, potentially, Rooney-s career.

Tickets for this Sunday's clash against Gold Coast United are available from www.proticket.com.au or by calling (02) 4915 2345.