MASON Bennett is the ideal person to offer Zak Lovelace advice after they both made their professional debuts at 15 – but the senior team-mate is happy for the youngster to learn his own way.
Lovelace – now 16 – became Millwall’s second-youngest player ever when he came on as a substitute against Coventry aged 15 years and 340 days.
Bennett was even younger at 15 years and 99 days when he made his debut in October 2011 against Middlesbrough, still Derby’s youngest-ever player.
Bennett believes Lovelace will have a big future if he keeps up the hard work.
“We’ve had a couple of chats but I’m one that I’d rather them learn their own way,” Bennett said. “I had a similar upbringing. Yes, you’re in the training ground, yes you’ve got to be nice to people, but you’ve got to learn your own way in how to cope with the environment and the demands of training.
“He’s done well since he’s come in training with us. He’s still at school so I know what he’s going through. He’s got a bright future and he needs to keep working hard and take his opportunity when he gets it.
“I found it really hard, I still had two years at school from the time I made my debut. It does change your views on life and your outcome after school.
“But if I were to give advice to him it would be to enjoy his time at school. After your career, it’s only short, so you need something to fall back on.
“He’s loving every moment of it and I’m sure he’ll be going into school with his head held high. He’s earned that, he’s done well so hats off to him.”
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