Elliott: from window cleaner to Old Trafford

Ian Winrow
Friday 25 March 2005 01:00
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Few would suggest the early morning grind of a Belfast window cleaning round is the ideal preparation for an afternoon attempting to breach the formidable English defensive pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. Stuart Elliott, though, could justifiably beg to differ.

Few would suggest the early morning grind of a Belfast window cleaning round is the ideal preparation for an afternoon attempting to breach the formidable English defensive pairing of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. Stuart Elliott, though, could justifiably beg to differ.

The Northern Ireland striker will face Sven Goran Eriksson's household names on equal terms tomorrow yet eight years ago the contrast between the players could not have been more stark. Then, while Ferdinand, Terry, et al were eyeing their first lucrative contract, Elliott was shelling out for buckets and chamois leathers as he spent his weekdays hauling his ladders around his home city before turning out for Glentoran on a Saturday.

Elliott's early experiences sum up the difference between the two teams as eloquently as the 103-place gap that separates them in the Fifa world rankings. Yet despite having never been to Old Trafford before, the Hull City striker carries with him on to the pitch a growing reputation as a goalscorer of note, underlined by his standing as the joint leading scorer in English football this season. Sharing his tally of 28 goals? Thierry Henry.

But if Elliott's prolific record comes as a surprise to some, Eriksson has no excuse having been briefed by Peter Taylor who combines his role as Elliott's club manager with that of England Under-21 coach.

"I've spoken to Sven about Stuart and warned him that he is a big danger," Taylor said. "He's been an influential player for us this season and when we haven't looked like getting a result, he has come up with a vital goal. His finishing has been of a consistently high standard and I'm sure if he gets a chance in front of goal against England at Old Trafford he will be confident about taking it."

The 26-year-old established himself at Glentoran before a £100,000 move to Motherwell five years ago provided a more visible platform and 22 goals in 50 League starts earned him a £230,000 to Hull, who were then in the bottom division.

Elliott has maintained his impressive ratio of a goal every other game with Hull, and while his rise has not been meteoric, he admits he has not grown accustomed to his growing fame. "A few years back I was just a young lad from east Belfast cleaning windows and playing for the Glens," said Elliott, a committed Christian. "It is by God's grace that I moved to Motherwell and then on to Hull City. I have been in good scoring form this season and if I get an opportunity on Saturday I would be confident of taking it.

"All the pressure is on England. They are supposed to hammer us. It's going to be a great occasion for the boys and I have never been to Old Trafford so I am looking forward to that. I don't think we will be overawed."

Taylor agrees. "Stuart won't worry about who he is playing against. If anything it will inspire him," he said. "He's that type of player. The bigger the challenge, the more he enjoys it."

¿ George McCartney has pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad to face England with a groin problem.

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