The Chronicle have released one of THE best interviews you are likely to read this year, with Matty and Sean Longstaff opening up following their inspirational rise through the ranks at St James’ Park.
Getting straight to it (it’s a long read but a brilliant one!), here’s what an emotional Sean had to say when reflecting on Matty’s magic moment against Manchester United two weeks ago:
“I remember thinking ‘This is the best seat in the house, getting to watch him walk out for the first time at St James’ Park as a brother and teammate.
“I was a bit to the side of it when he scored but I think I did shout ‘Just hit it Matty!’ when the ball came to him. I wasn’t up with play, he was.
“I’ve had that feeling before, but for him to do that on his debut against Manchester United, it was such a big game, the emotion was crazy. I actually froze for a second.
“I didn’t know what do, I didn’t know whether to just fall down on to my knees and I filled up, I thought I was going to start crying and you can’t do that out on the middle of a football pitch. I had to try and jump on someone and hide a bit. It was pure happiness.”
“I think it was a better feeling than one I scored my first goal,”
“Just the occasion, him being so young and it being his debut, knowing everything he has been through to get to that point when he was younger. He was turned away by Newcastle when he was 10 or 11, but he fought back.
“I was in the car with him when he was rejected on the way home and he was crying. From that night, he said ‘Nobody is going to be able to do this to me again’.
“He worked so hard to get back, he probably does work harder than me. I look at him and if I could work as hard as he does, I don’t know where I could get to.”
“His work rate, everything he does off the pitch is better than me. It felt like everything had been building to that moment he scored. It was unbelievable and even now I get a bit emotional talking about.”
Matty may have been living the dream a fortnight ago, but things weren’t always so straightforward for the NUFC youngster.
As he discusses below, he only ever wanted to play for Newcastle United – making the moment he was rejected at 11 hard to bare, yet something that would go on to inspire him:
“It was one of the toughest things you can go through as a kid. We have supported Newcastle since we were little,”
“I remember Middlesbrough and Sunderland constantly asking us every year to come and join them and my Dad saying ‘He wants to go to Newcastle.’ I finally got the chance to come in and train with them. It was a four week thing and and they pulled me and one other kid in here and said, ‘Look, thanks for coming, but we’re not going to keep you…’
“I walked out crying. When you look back at it, it probably fired me up to get where I am,” he says.”
“It really p****d me off. Looking back, being able to do what I’ve done since then, it all comes from that moment.”
“Sean was always one of the best. I used to be here almost every night when he was training or playing and I would have my little ball on the touchline and I used to think I wish I was playing for Newcastle,”
“I remember Sunderland asked me three or four times if I would go and play for them, but no, I wanted to do everything I could to get back to Newcastle,”
“Middlesbrough came in for me as well. But there was only one club that I wanted to play for and thankfully I got back into the set up.”
“I came back and signed for the Under 13s. It was pretty quick. I had more of a fire in my belly, I didn’t want to ever be rejected again.”
The 19-year-old then reflected on THAT Premier League debut at St James’ Park, revealing the early morning nerves that hit him on match day and his thought process in the moment before kick off:
“I woke up pretty early and thought I’d try and get back to sleep but it’s playing on your mind, playing in the Premier League against Man United. It’s like Christmas morning, as stupid as it sounds, I just couldn’t really get back to sleep,”
“This might sound dead stupid but the thing that calmed my nerves down was when I walked out with the mascot and I was playing passes with him!
“You pass the ball and you are thinking, ‘Just concentrate on the pass’. I remember thinking just before the game, ‘Just get some good touches in here’ as stupid as that sounds! Just get a feel for the ball after walking out with the music. I’m thinking, “I know it’s just a little kid but I might as well make my passes be pretty good’. That set me up for it!”
“Playing alongside my brother makes it a lot easier for me. You see how composed he is on the ball. A couple of times the other day when I went a bit headless chicken he was there to cover. To have some you grew up with that close to you in the game, they kind of talk you through and it helps,”
Sean then spoke out about the pair’s close bond, saying this in response to his Mam’s claims that they “genuinely love each other”:
“I would say genuinely we do. It’s like any brothers, any family, you do love each other. There are teams when you will fall out but ultimately when times get tough it is family that will be there for you the most.
“We try to do that. We have been lucky to have had a bit of success so far, but whenever times are good or bad we will try to be there for each other and keep each of us level.”
Matty then opened up about the influence their parents had as kids, paying tribute to the discipline that was installed into them from an early age – and the role they played in choosing football over cricket:
“They were pretty strict in school and if we got wrong they weren’t very happy with it,”
“The way they brought us up, not just my mam and dad but as a family, nanna and grandpa and everything, they played a big part in how we grew up. They were pretty disciplined with us.”
“When I was under-13s, football wasn’t going so well but in cricket I was doing really well. People were saying I could see you going to the top. I told my dad I might concentrate on cricket and he gave me a clip round the ear for saying it as if to say ‘There’s not a chance that’s happening’.”
Sean then spoke highly of youngster sister Milly – another talented Longstaff sibling who plays netball at county level:
“Milly is great, she has been dragged round training and to football ever since she was three-years-old. She is a really good netballer. Like Matty says, she probably is a bit lazier than us two.
“She is obviously really good at netball and we support her as well. It’s funny, you look at the Nevilles – those two played in the Premier League and their sister was a netballer and played for England and coached England.
“We’ve said to Milly, ‘We’ve done our little bit, it’s up to you now!’. She’s amazing. She comes to all the games. She’s much more into her football now that we are playing. It can be tough sometimes for her as well, when she does go into school and everyone is speaking about me or him.
“It must be hard for her sometimes, but we speak to her all the time and make sure she is not reading too much of social media when it is not going as well. Obviously, I think it was the West Ham game last year when I got injured and we lost.
“There was a bit going on on social media and a few people were sending her stuff in school. That is obviously the not great part of it. We do everything we can to help here and we cannot thank her enough for the sacrifices she has made as well.”
Finally, Sean responds to those likening him to Michael Carrick – with Matty saying “Phwaargh. Big boots to fill, aren’t they?” as his older brother is asked about the comparison:
“I don’t know (how it makes me feel). Obviously, he is someone I have grown up watching and being from around here, if I can have a quarter of the career he’s had, I’d probably snap your hand off. He’s probably one of the most successful players ever to come out of Newcastle,”
“Like I say, when you hear people comparing to someone of his calibre and say good things about me and him (Matty), it’s really nice and gives you a bit of motivation to kick on and see if you can get anywhere close to what they done.”
A brilliant interview from two brothers who not only display real humility and passion for Newcastle United, but an endearing love for each other.
I’d love nothing more than to see these two have long and successful careers at the heart of our midfield.