Football: Murphy's fame game

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The Independent Online
The price of fame, or in Danny Murphy's case recently acquired fame, is that everyone suddenly wants a piece of you. It was thus yesterday when as soon as one interview ended here in Malaysia, there was another reporter clamouring to speak to the 20-year-old Crewe striker whose three goals the night before have doubtless increased his transfer value.

Murphy's 30-yard shot, set-piece header and coolly struck penalty, courtesy of the regular penalty-taker Michael Owen who was eventually persuaded to stand aside, had come in the 5-0 thrashing of the United Arab Emirates which took England through to the knock-out stages of the World Youth Cup.

Not once in 140-odd first-team games for Crewe had Murphy scored a hat- trick: "It was especially nice getting my first one in a real competitive game like this," he said. "Lots of people said we weren't as good technically as the Ivory Coast but you can't argue when we're winning."

The Ivorians' capacity for extravagant improvisation was fully exhibited before Ted Powell, the England coach, sorted things out well enough for his team to scrape an undeserved 2-1 win in England's first group game.

Dario Gradi has doubtless done much the same at Crewe during Murphy's six years there, which is why the player holds his mentor in such high regard: "No one gives him enough credit," Murphy insisted. "I have played under loads of coaches but he has to be the best. So many players now playing in the Premier League have come through him."

The list is well documented and Murphy will shortly be joining their ranks, massive though the wrench of leaving Gresty Road will be.

It was as a 14-year-old that Murphy first encountered Gradi: "There he was on a wet cold Thursday night training us youngsters. At lots of clubs you don't even get to see the manager, let alone train with him."

But of one thing Murphy can be sure: as soon as he's gone another Gradi graduate will be raring to take his place.

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