Jack Rodwell made his Everton debut at 16 – now the midfielder is looking to light up the A-League

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Jack Rodwell made his Everton debut aged 16 only to later become a hugely divisive figure at Sunderland – now the midfielder is looking to light up the A-League with new club Sydney FC

  • Jack Rodwell looms as a key figure for Sydney FC in upcoming A-League season
  • Made debut for Everton aged 16, won 2013/14 premiership with Manchester City
  • Went onto have a turbulent stint at Sunderland, now based in the Harbour City
  • Rodwell joins fellow English stars Adam Le Fondre and Joe Lolley at Sydney FC

Mention the name Jack Rodwell to rusted-on football fans and you will likely be met with a shake of the head.

The Sydney FC recruit has an enviable CV – including a stint with Manchester City where he won a title in 2013/14 – and made his first team debut for English Premier League side Everton aged just 16.

Comparisons to fellow standout Blues junior Wayne Rooney followed, and after a handful of England caps, a glittering career seemed a formality for the prodigy.

But professional football isn’t about fairytales, as Rodwell knows better than most.

Some supporters view the defensive midfielder as a wasted talent, others are more sympathetic given his injuries.

He certainly isn’t a popular figure at Sunderland, where he spent four testing seasons from 2014-2018.

Jack Rodwell made his debut for Everton at the age of 16 and appeared to have the world at his feet

Jack Rodwell made his debut for Everton at the age of 16 and appeared to have the world at his feet

In 2012, Rodwell secured a move to Manchester City, where he won a EPL title in the 2013/14 season

In 2012, Rodwell secured a move to Manchester City, where he won a EPL title in the 2013/14 season

At one stage he was earning $70,000 a week at the Stadium of Light and spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.

Rodwell was painted as money hungry by many Black Cats supporters, but the man himself – who will be a key figure for the Sky Blues in the A-League this season, starting on Saturday in the ‘Big Blue’ versus Melbourne Victory at the revamped Allianz Stadium – has a different take.

‘Everyone inside the club (Sunderland) will tell you I wasn’t a bad lad,’ he said of his disastrous experience in England’s north-east.

‘I did everything that was asked of me and more whereas other players wouldn’t have.’

Eventually Rodwell moved on, turning out for Blackburn (2018-2019) and Sheffield United (2020-2021) in the Championship.

With his wife Alana Licata a Sydney girl, she yearned for a return to the Harbour City to be closer to family.

The couple first met in Sydney when Rodwell was a teenager on the books of Everton.

Rodwell then moved to Sunderland in 2014, and it proved to be a disastrous move (pictured, during a game against Manchester United)

Rodwell then moved to Sunderland in 2014, and it proved to be a disastrous move (pictured, during a game against Manchester United)

Rodwell met his wife Alana Licate in Australia when on a pre-season tour with Everton - the couple now live in Sydney

Rodwell met his wife Alana Licate in Australia when on a pre-season tour with Everton – the couple now live in Sydney

Rodwell knew football wise the A-League was a step down from the EPL or Championship, but it was an adventure the couple decided to explore.

The 31-year-old signed for the Western Sydney Wanderers last year, and scored three goals in 14 appearances on a short term deal.

And when cross-town rivals Sydney FC came calling in the off-season, Rodwell was always going to agree to terms.

He is loving his new surroundings, and joins fellow English stars Adam Le Fondre and Joe Lolley at the club.

Rodwell, 31, joins fellow English stars Adam Le Fondre and Joe Lolley at Sydney FC ahead of the 2022/23 A-League season

Rodwell, 31, joins fellow English stars Adam Le Fondre and Joe Lolley at Sydney FC ahead of the 2022/23 A-League season

Former Manchester United winger Nani has signed for Melbourne Victory, who play Sydney FC in a blockbuster round one fixture at Allianz Stadium

Former Manchester United winger Nani has signed for Melbourne Victory, who play Sydney FC in a blockbuster round one fixture at Allianz Stadium

‘Jack’s ability is unquestionable, he’s played at the very highest level and he has adapted to the Australian conditions extremely well,’ head coach Steve Corica said.

‘I expect him to get even better this season; he is still in his peak years as a footballer and can excel in various positions.’

Rodwell didn’t need to play in Australia – previous hefty contracts have made him a wealthy man.

But the chance to prove to the footballing world he is talent worth persisting with was a gamble Sydney FC were willing to take.

It could prove be a shrewd move or one to forget – that is up to Rodwell. 

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