Irish centre-back Nathan Collins became the youngest captain in Stoke City’s 156-year history as he led the Potters to victory in the Carabao Cup last night.
The 18-year-old from Leixlip has been tipped for a “wonderful career” by his manager Nathan Jones after achieving the feat in only his fifth senior start.
Collins didn’t know he would be captain for the trip to Wigan until Jones approached him in the dressing room, saying “you’d better go in with the team sheet [to the referee’s room]”.
Collins was even awarded a goal in the 10th minute, which turned out to be the winner in the 1-0 win, but later clarified that he hadn’t got the final touch.
“[Sam] Vokes is claiming it but I got my clean sheet so that’s all that matters, I’ll let him have the goal,” he told the Stoke Sentinel, who gave him a man-of-the-match rating of eight out of 10.
They reported: “Skipper for the night, he was terrific in the air at the back and not too shoddy in other defensive facets either on a truly memorable night for the teenager.”
Jones was also predicting big things for the teenager after full-time.
“It’s a good night for us and it is a good night for Nathan,” the manager told Stoke’s club website.
“He is captain material, real captain material, and he will go on to be the captain of this Football Club.
His temperament is top drawer, he doesn’t get fazed or carried away by anything and I really believe he is going to go on and enjoy a wonderful career.
“In fairness to the other lads, there were a number of them I could have given the armband to tonight because we have a number of leaders here.
“We have Adam Federici here, who is experienced and vocal, Macca [James McClean], who is very experienced and leads by example, young Liam Lindsay, who is maybe quieter but really plays with authority.
“There are so many of them who were candidates but I gave it to Nathan because I trust him. He is a good kid, and somebody I have enormous faith and belief in.”
Collins was excused from Ireland’s Euro U19 finals this summer as he took part in Stoke’s pre-season campaign amid reported interest from Manchester United.
A Cherry Orchard graduate, he signed a new five-year contract with Stoke in July.
His family is steeped in football through the generations.
His father, David, was a professional footballer who was on the books at Liverpool before playing for Wigan and Oxford United.
His uncle, Eamonn, represented Southampton, Portsmouth, and Colchester United, and managed St Patrick’s Athletic.
Like his dad and uncle, Nathan has captained Ireland underage teams.
His older brother Josh plays with UCD, while their grandfather won an FAI Cup.