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Doherty: "I Just Want to Learn as Much as I Can"

June 19, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Tampa Bay Rowdies News Release

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 19, 2019) - Jordan Doherty is the youngest player to appear in a league match in the Modern Era of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and is among the youngest to ever feature for the Rowdies going all the way back to the Golden Era Rowdies in 1975.

But to him, this is nothing new.

Doherty is just 18 years old but he's been at this a while. He left his native Ireland shortly after turning 15 to pursue a career in the sport, moving across the Irish Sea to join the youth academy at Sheffield United.

By the time he was 17, he was playing up two age groups for Sheffield's Under 23s. As if playing with young men six years older wasn't a responsibility enough, Doherty actually captained the team of his much older peers.

"I first captained the U23s when I was 17," he said. "I felt very honored to do that. For the manager to put that trust in me at a young age and give me the chance to lead the boys was really special."

Fast forward a year and Doherty has again crossed the water to join a team as its youngest member. He is with the Rowdies on a season-long loan from Sheffield United. Doherty made his professional debut in the Rowdies season opener, coming off the bench in the final minutes to help close out a 1-0 road win over Memphis 901 FC.

To him, it was just the next step in a burgeoning career. But to the Rowdies, it was hugely significant to have a player as young as 18 playing in meaningful matches.

"In England there's a lot of players even younger than 18 making their first team debuts even at 16 or 17 years old," Doherty said. "When I came over here, people reacted as if I was a baby, which I thought was pretty funny. My opinion is if you're good enough to play, age doesn't matter."

Doherty has continued to prove his worth this year, appearing in nine matches so far primarily as a defensive midfielder. This year, he's won half his tackles and more than half of his duels while completing 74 percent of his passes and drawing more than twice as many fouls as he concedes.

"People like me, Caleb (Richards) and Juan (Tejada) are just starting our professional careers but we were welcomed right away and it's been unbelievable the way we all get along and enjoy our time together," he said. "Everyone's getting on and there's a really good mentality where we all push each other to be better every single day."

With Dom Oduro suspended this week due to yellow card accumulation, Doherty figures to be in the conversation to make his sixth start of the campaign this Saturday evening on the road against Bethlehem Steel FC.

"I've been really enjoying my time here and working hard on the training pitch," Doherty said. "Once I'm playing I'm enjoying myself and I work really hard for the team. I just want to learn as much as I can from the players around me and the coaches. I want to get as many minutes as I can on the pitch and hopefully win a championship. That's something I really want to achieve this year."

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