Once that promising youngster from just round the corner from Deepdale, Andrew Lonergan had the opportunity of a lifetime after leaving school at sixteen. Thrown into the limelight by none other than David Moyes the school boy who dreamed of playing for his hometown got his wish a little earlier than he may have imagined. Now a free agent former Preston and Bolton keeper talks school days, female attention, that goal of a life time and David Moyes.
How did it feel to be sixteen and starting for the football team you’d supported your whole life?
It was weird. Like going from classroom to the pitch almost instantly. Some mornings when I was waking up for training I felt like I had to pinch myself like remind myself it was actually happening that this was my real life. It was strange because all my friends from school were starting college or jobs and there was me putting my boots on. I’d obviously been training with the team and everything but when the lads saw my name as a starter on the team sheet they just couldn’t believe it. It all happened really quickly like I didn’t even have time to think about it. Everyone was chuffed for me my family and friends and that there was no one really there to remind me that I was this 16-year-old local lad who was just chancing his luck every day. It was madness looking back.
Did you notice a lot of people from school wanted to be a part of your success story?
Yeah I think there will always be people like that you know the ones who pipe up out of the woodwork when you’re doing good. All the ‘Hi strangers’ everyone knows the ones. I didn’t even put up with it off lads I was wise to it. I had my mates I knew who my true mates were but with the ladies. I was 16, 17-year-old lad who’d never had that much attention do you know what I mean? Think most lads would have been the same.
Do you think you were too young when you got your start at Preston?
A part of me does think I had my chance a little bit too early yeah and I wasn’t helped out by my own fitness and injuries. I’ve had time now to sit back and really think about my younger days you know what I might have done differently. There were definitely times when the pressure got to me which if I’d had an older head on my shoulders it probably wouldn’t have affected me the same. It’s funny looking back though. I had this opportunity that most lads my age would only ever dream of and I couldn’t even really enjoy it properly because it just didn’t seem like my real life at all. Preston will always have that special place in my heart obviously. It’s my hometown and not only that its where I started my career but I’ve also loved playing everywhere I’ve been I know its cliché but it’s just a dream come true that this is my job. I never take it for granted and I never would.
How did your family feel when you were given your debut?
They were so proud and also just as shocked as I was I think and obviously really supportive with whatever I wanted to do and they still are now my mum is one of those people who always says it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve done your best but that wasn’t really too consoling after a loss. (Laughs) But it was my dream and they knew that so they were never going to be anything but amazing about it all.
What have been your career high and low points?
The highlight of my career was probably that goal against Leicester. It was one of those moments where you just can’t believe it’s actually happened to you. I’d always try and be cheeky and try it in training just a bit of showing off in front of the lads and that but in all seriousness that wasn’t even a shot at all. Like I was stood there thinking did that really just happen. You don’t often get to celebrate like you’ve won the champions league final when you’re a goal keeper so I did milk it in the dressing room after. The lowest was probably getting relegated with the lads. It’s never easy to be the losing team and it never will be but to go down like we did it was the worst feeling. Knowing that you’ve let your team mates and them supporters down was the worst part of it all. A season is a long time so if you start of weak you know there’s time ahead and time to improve on your form. That season it felt like time was running away with us and we didn’t have the chance to catch up with ourselves.
How did you find having to leave Preston?
Of course it was always going to be difficult to leave the club. I had a lot of respect for the team, the staff, the players, the fans I loved everything about the club and still do. It was never going to be easy to part ways but it had to happen for me to progress and for them as well.
Tell me a bit about your relationship with David Moyes, what do you think of his recent managerial ventures?
I have nothing but admiration and respect for the guy. My career could have been very different without him so I owe a lot to him. But aside from that I do think he’s a genuinely great guy with a lot of experience and knowledge about him. He’s top at what he does too. I had the pleasure of working with him again at Everton for a brief spell too so I know him well and he’s a good guy. It was a bit of a car crash waiting to happen United but I think most great managers would have struggled in his circumstances. I did truly feel for him though when he left.
What do you think of Preston’s current success?
It’s great to see them back up there doing well challenging for promotion and back to winning. It’s not been an easy few years for them I know that and I still follow them and watch them when I can obviously its good they’re back where they belong.