Luke Matheson skipped school in style as the 16-year-old netted a famous goal for Rochdale at Old Trafford – but playing against Manchester United is not enough to get him out of a psychology test.
Rather than head to Trinity C of E High School on Wednesday, the talented right-back was given permission to head two-and-a-half miles up the road to play at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup third round.
Matheson, who is studying for A Levels in psychology, history and sociology, was thrown in from the start and flourished under the floodlights, capping a confident performance by firing home a memorable leveller as Rochdale held United to a 1-1 draw.
The Sky Bet League One side eventually bowed out 5-3 on penalties, but the teenager was in dreamland after a night to cherish.
“It’s a special, special moment,” Matheson said with a beaming smile. “A dream come true for anyone.
“I am sure everybody dreams of scoring at a stadium like Old Trafford, a historic place.
“I struck it and it hit the roof of the net and my body just took over. I sprinted to the Dale fans and did a knee slide. I thought I was going to go down the hill. That is a special, special moment for me and everyone.
“I would have been at school today. I am going in on Thursday to make up for it when we have got a day off. I have a psychology test, so I can’t wait for that!”
Matheson’s excuse for postponing the test is as good as any.
The level-headed teenager loves his studies, unlike many footballers, and is sure to be the talk of the school.
“I don’t know what (being back at school) will be like,” Matheson said after the game.
“I think I am going to go in a little bit late and get some sort of lie-in. I don’t think I will sleep tonight!
“I go in once a week and try to go in more if possible, depending on training. It is what I have done for 10 years of my life. It is no different. I just play football a bit more now.
“Education is something I am very fond of. I love it. Rochdale and the school have been so supportive of me. I love learning. It is what I want to do. Football is not a guarantee.
“You never know what will happen. You could be the best player in the world, but anything is possible. I want to have that back-up plan just in case.”
Matheson, who grew up in Manchester but is a Norwich supporter like his dad, certainly looks like he has the potential to reach the top based on his showing at Old Trafford.
United and Liverpool are already reported to be interested in the 16-year-old, but Rochdale – and completing his education – is his focus right now.
“You always want to play in front of the fans for the team you play for – whether that’s in front of the Rochdale fans at the Crown Oil Arena or in front of United fans at Old Trafford,” he added.
“It doesn’t really make a difference to me personally as long as I am making them happy and putting on performances they want to see, that’s all I can really ask for.
“You know, I am only 16. You never know. Touch wood, hopefully I’ll have a long playing career.
“Who that’s (playing) for, I don’t know. I am looking forward to what the future holds.”
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