James Gibbons first signed for the Vale when he was 11-years-old and has played for the club ever since, yet he was left to doubt the possibility of a professional career after the coaches questioned his size.
Speaking on ‘Talk of the Vale’, the official club podcast, Gibbons discussed his aspirations of becoming a footballer during his school years yet admitted that his classmates were twice the player he was at that stage, and that he was nowhere near the best player at the school.
The right-back explains how it was always a dream to play football professionally, yet it never crossed his mind that he could actually make it.
Despite this, the 21-year-old then signed for the Vale when he was 11-years-old and played all the way through, yet at 15 he was informed that he may not be big enough to play football after the coaches claimed that he had not had his growth spurt at that point.
Gibbons admitted that the comments got into his head but he then went on to have a good season the following year after putting the doubts behind him.
He said: “It was everyone’s dream at my school. All my mates were aspiring to be that and a lot of them in primary school were at academy’s, and were twice the player I was. I was nowhere near the best player at the school, I wasn’t as technical as some of the players.
“It was always a dream but it never was an ‘I thought I could actually make it here’, but I signed for Vale when I was 11 and all the way through and at the 15’s I got told that I might not be big enough.
“They were looking at the size of me and looking at the size of my dad and then they said to me that I hadn’t had my growth spurt yet, and I came away from that thinking should size really matter.
“It got in my head a little bit but then I came back in the 16’s with Paul Ede and Mick Ede and I had a good year, that’s what you need to do, put away all the bad comments and doubts and just kick on.”
Also on the first episode of the podcast, Gibbons explained how his style of play makes him believe that he should be played in a different era.
Despite this, the 21-year-old admits that he is always trying to adapt his game to the modern era, and claims that going forward is something he tries to improve to most.
Gibbons is known as a full-back with a high work rate and high intensity who never seems to pull out of a tackle, and he explains where that nature of play comes from.
He said: “My dad and grandad were always right-backs, I always used to go watch my Dad when he played in the Coors league for Miners Arms and he had a similar sort of play and that’s what I grew up watching and he was never one to pull out of a tackle. I’ve been brought up like that and my Grandad’s the same, if I ever backed out of a challenge my dad would let me know.
“The one thing I always gave was 100 percent and I think that’s what got me over the line at the end, I give probably 10 percent more than what some others did and that’s one thing I’m grateful for that I’ve got instilled in me and how I’ve been brought up.
“I think you could say I’m in the wrong era and that I would probably be more suited in the 90’s but I’m still trying to adapt my game. Back when I was younger all of my reports were be better going forward, not to be too aggressive, and that’s the sort of thing I always worked on, going forward and adapting my game to what the modern game is now and developing as a modern day full-back.”
To listen to 'Talk of the Vale epiosde one on spotify click here: Episode 1