Men's Team

Rico Lewis’ inspirations: His dad, Muhammad Ali and Kyle Walker

Rico Lewis has thanked his dad for helping him to become a professional footballer.

While filming for a forthcoming video as part of our Black History Month celebrations, Lewis highlighted the people who have had the most impact on him to date.

The Bury-born defender joined our academy as an 8-year-old and has progressed through the ranks at a rate of knots, captaining our Under-18s to national title glory last season.

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Still just 17, the right-back made his competitive senior debut as a late substitute against Bournemouth in August and has since made a further three appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side.

Having already achieved so much at such a young age, Lewis praised his father firstly for getting him interested in football and then for encouraging him to chase a career in the sport.

“When I was about two or three, I was just kicking the ball around,” he said.

“My dad owns a gym where I live and I was just kicking the ball around there with him, he would kick it back to me, nothing serious just messing about really and that was what brought me into football. 

“He was the main point that pushed me, he didn’t force me towards things but pushed me in directions to get myself out there.

"My family saw me make my debut and they were in a box and I could see them, and being able to meet them after was like, I’ve worked hard for this and they’ve also worked hard for it, so they are proud of me and I am proud of that."

Lewis also says his father showed him inspirational figures from the past, including perhaps the most famous boxer of all time.

“He was really into Thai boxing and stuff like that, he showed me a lot of a Muhammad Ali clips. He showed me his story and I took quite a lot from him at the time."

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At the time, he was an attacking player.

Now, Lewis plays for the Premier League champions under the tutelage of one of the game’s greatest ever managers.

He also acts as understudy to Kyle Walker, one of the greatest right-backs of his generation.

Asked about which players he idolised as a boy, he said: “As I grew up watching football more and becoming more of a full-back, I’d say definitely Kyle Walker. I’d also say Dani Alves when he was playing at Barcelona, I loved watching him as well.”

Walker is currently unavailable through injury, but Lewis says the England international has had a major impact on him since he began training with the first team.

Lewis even points out that he doesn’t need to seek out the four-time Premier League champion, with Walker always keen to share his knowledge.

“I think it is just the little tips,” he said.

“I don’t really have to go and ask him for much but he just gives me little tips when he can sees that he could improve me in some way, it goes a long way really.”

Rico Lewis' conversation with Josh Wilson-Esbrand, part of our Black History Month celebrations, will be available later this month.

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