Gordon | “I Haven’t Made It Yet”
Lewis Gordon is the latest Academy graduate to make progress on the pathway to first-team football, signing his first professional deal last Saturday when Watford hosted West Bromwich Albion.
He was presented to the Vicarage Road faithful at half-time, surrounded by his family – a constant supportive presence on his journey so far. Gordon, a left-back who was a striker before he joined the club at Under-7 level, was obviously delighted.
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“It was very exciting. When I first got the news, I was really happy,” said Gordon, who has signed a contract until June 2020. “Then I went back home with my Mum and celebrated.
“It was nice to have [my family] with me, to celebrate with them. My Mum’s been with me the whole way.
“I joined when I was six or seven, and it’s been a long journey.
“I’ve been with a lot of coaches who’ve helped me along the way. It’s really led me up to where I am now, and if I’ve learnt anything it’s that I need to keep pushing on, because I haven’t made it yet.”
Gordon was in high demand playing youth football in Harrow, but it was Watford that he chose, after being courted by some of the biggest clubs in the country.
“I was playing for a local team called Parkfield and I got scouted by a few teams like Chelsea and Arsenal,” said Gordon. “I even trained with them, but when it came to the signing part I chose Watford because I thought it would be best for me, and it’s turned out quite well.
“The coaches I was working with, they understood that at first I started as a striker, but they saw that I was better as a full-back. The support that I got from them was a lot better than at other clubs.”
Despite that position change – something specifically that José Holebas has also done as his career has progressed – Gordon is happy where he is now, and gives credit to the coaches he’s worked with along the way that have helped him evolve.
“I miss it sometimes when I see people like Ryan Cassidy scoring three goals! But I like left-back a lot because I can get forward and defend.
“I think [that striking instinct] is still with me, but I have to work on the defending side, because you have to go both ways, and I think my defending has come a long way.
“I was playing with the Under-18s for the first part of this season and the coaches Carl [Martin] and Paul [Hardyman] taught me a lot; they’ve really helped with my progression.
“Then stepping-up with the Under-23s it’s a much tougher challenge, everyone is a lot more physical, and you are basically playing against men.
“It’s really good for me, I just need to start maturing and get a bit more physical.”
The young full-back has even had the chance to train with the first-team squad this week, and is relishing the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and the Hornets' Head Coach.
“Training with the first-team is one of the greatest experiences,” he said, “because you get to train with a lot of great players, and they are all helpful. Javi Gracia kept all the younger players behind as well and spoke to us and gave us advice.”
He appreciates the value of getting as many different styles of coaching and as many different voices as possible in pursuit of ‘making it’ – that’s been part of the reasoning behind getting involved in the Scotland youth sides.
“My Nan is Scottish and that’s how I qualify,” he said. “Last month I went away with them to Marbella. We played three games out there and did quite well against France, Spain and Poland.
“I’m going back away with them again – but this time it’s European qualifiers – and that will be against Germany, Greece and Norway. Hopefully we can qualify.
“They were very helpful up there, I didn’t know anyone, but they are a very together group, they bonded with me well. The coaches get along with the players and they made me feel like family.”
And that family spirit is a recurring theme whenever Gordon speaks; he wants to make them proud, though he admits there is still some way to go in his development yet.
He said: “I want to really kick-on with the Under-23s. I haven’t cemented my place in the team [yet].
“Maybe there will be more opportunities with first-team training, being on the bench or involved with the squad – that would be great.
“My Dad passed away when I was young; I know he’s looking over me, and I just want to do it all for him and for my Mum because she’s been with me the whole way.”