Football: Family Tree

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The Independent Online
GIVEN that a son's first role model is usually his father, the number of boys who follow the paternal example and take up careers in football is easily explained. In the case of Stephen Bywater, there is clearly something in the genes, too. Indeed, the 16-year-old West Ham newcomer appears to have inherited a predisposition towards goalkeeping.

The England youth international, who moved to Upton Park from Rochdale last week for an initial payment of pounds 300,000, represents the fourth generation in his family to take up the gloves.

Stephen's father, David, a member of Rochdale's coaching staff, was a goalkeeper on Halifax Town's books, while his grandfather, Leslie, made 19 League appearances between the sticks for Luton and 34 for Rochdale. And his father before him, apparently, was a keeper with Aston Villa.

The latest in the line enjoyed an eventful debut, to say the least. Playing against Charlton reserves, he conceded five goals and was sent off for bringing down an opponent in the penalty area. Against Tottenham reserves, however, he reportedly played a blinder, keeping a clean sheet.

The deal struck between West Ham and Rochdale is a complicated one, involving 20 stage payments, one of which would be triggered if Stephen were to become England captain.

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