James Tarkowski has hailed Tony Philliskirk’s influence on his rise to the very top. The highly-respected coach oversaw the early days of the Burnley and England defender’s development when he came through the ranks at Oldham. Philliskirk played for 11 different clubs during his career and he was a prolific journeymen striker himself.
James Tarkowski said “He’s probably been the biggest influence on my career to be honest, Not just as a footballer, but as a person with the mindset of how I wanted to live my life and be as a footballer. I’ll admit that I was probably a bit soft at a young age and Tony brought that toughness out of me and the work rate, knowing that I needed to work my hardest to be the best that I could be. Just as much as the technical and tactical side of things, mentally Tony brought me on leaps and bounds from joining right up until the time I left. Working with Tony as a YTS on a day-to-day basis, he just wants to get the best out of you. It’s the way you approach the game and being in the right frame of mind to play and that’s something Tony was massive for, for me and for many other lads. I joined Oldham first when I was really young, I came through the Under-8s, Under-11s and then left to go to Blackburn for a few years then one of my school teachers ended up bringing me back. Tony knew about me already from being there at a young age. That’s how it came about. When I left Blackburn I lost my love for football a little bit and wanted to go and play with my mates but my teacher persuaded me to go back to Oldham for a trial and I ended up getting signed a few weeks later as an Under-16. But then I broke my leg in my Under-16 season so I didn’t manage to play much football until it was about April time when I came back and played a few games. Fortunately Tony signed me on. It’s been the little things that people take for granted like taking our own drinks in, washing our own kit, We’re not allowed into the building (at Burnley’s Barnfield Training Centre) to have showers which is just an every day thing for other people but we are babysat at times. To have those luxuries taken away it was strange. We slowly got used to it. It was packed lunches in the car on the way home and it all brought us back down to earth a little bit and showed we don’t need these luxuries all the time and how fortunate we are to have them. I remember going to Gawthorpe as a young kid with Oldham and how it’s changed from when I joined to where it is now it’s come right with the times. It’s top of the range everything and we’re very fortunate as players, we’re so well looked after that’s when it’s been taken away over these last few months it’s been hard to deal with really.”
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