Exclusive Sam Johnstone column

My dad Glenn used to play in goal for Preston

My dad Glenn used to play in goal for Preston

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I suppose it was inevitable that I would become a goalkeeper.

As the majority of PNE fans will know – well those of a certain age – my dad Glenn is a former North End No.1.

He played 10 games for the club in the early 1990s under John Beck after signing from nearby non-league outfit Lancaster City.

I did actually begin my footballing life as a defender for my junior side Euxton Villa before trying my hand between the sticks in one match.

I think it was my turn to go in goal but as soon as I pulled the gloves on, I fell in love with the position and after that there was no way I was going to relinquish the keeper’s jersey.

Like father like son people might say!

I don’t actually remember my dad’s time at Deepdale as I was only aged about one when he played for North End, but obviously some of his talent has rubbed off on me.

He sometimes attempts to tell me some stories of his time at the club. I tend not to listen to him!

But it is interesting that he used to have to keep goal on the plastic pitch back then.

My dad is really proud to see me wearing North End colours and following in his footsteps.

All my family and friends are proud too, plus they don’t have to travel too far to see me play.

I was brought up in Leyland and it’s great moment for me to be playing for my home-town club.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t particularly follow North End when I was young, mainly because I was picked up by Manchester United at such an early age.

I got scouted when I was at Euxton Villa around the age of 10.

I remember going to a satellite training session, before being invited for a trial at The Cliff.

Obviously from there, I was signed and so I grew up playing and training for the club, progressing through the ranks to eventually reach the first-team pitches at Carrington.

As a young lad, I would sometimes see the first-team players drive past after training.

David Beckham had left by then but I would see Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan, Tim Howard.

You would be awe-struck at times, especially when Sir Alex Ferguson would walk past.

I did not have much contact with the first team until about the age of 16 or 17.

Sometimes I would be drafted in to train with the reserves or work with some of the squad players of the first team.

In terms of my peers at United, my year was a good one.

I played with people like Ravel Morrison, Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard – Paul Pogba was my age too.

We won the FA Youth Cup, – beating Sheffield United over two legs in the final.

The first leg was at their place and we drew 2-2, but we were always pretty strong at Old Trafford and we got the job done in the second leg.

Although I had a great time as a youth player at United, I think I have now reached an age where I have to make my own career and move on.

I have signed on loan for Preston until the end of the season and after that I don’t know what will happen.

I am still contracted to United and whether I stay there or move here depends on a number of different situations.

Who knows whether my future is at Old Trafford or somewhere else?

Whether I stay at Preston depends on what the manager thinks.

All I can say is I am enjoying my time here.

Obviously when you first come in, you are a little bit nervous because you don’t know anybody.

But at the same time, I was excited about playing for my home-town club.

All the lads and staff have been great, they’ve made me really welcome.

I made my debut against Leyton Orient in the 2-2 draw at Deepdale and my second game was against Yeovil when we also drew 1-1.

It was frustrating that we did not get wins in those two games but we are determined to get back on the winning trail tomorrow at Crawley.

A few people have commented on the accuracy of my kicking in my first two games and that is something I work on religiously in
 training.

Being comfortable on the ball is a vital part of a goalkeeper’s armoury these days.

In many respects, we are like the 11th outfield player, although sometimes I give my dad a heart attack when I have the ball at my feet!