Brad Lyons working hard to realise his dream as he reaches another milestone

Becoming a professional footballer is a dream Brad Lyons has had since he was a young boy.
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His talent was there for all to see even in those tender years with a number of clubs taking notice of his ability.

His footballing journey though was to start off a little closer to his Ballymoney home.

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Under the tutelage of Oran Kearney at Coleraine, Lyons made the step up from youth football to the senior game seamlessly.

Brad Lyons with his mother Shirley and brother Mark at the 2018 Irish Cup finalBrad Lyons with his mother Shirley and brother Mark at the 2018 Irish Cup final
Brad Lyons with his mother Shirley and brother Mark at the 2018 Irish Cup final

After making his Showgrounds debut at 17, Lyons quickly became an integral part of the Bannsiders squad, helping then to win the Irish Cup in 2018.

It was no surprise that the scouts were taking notice again and a move to Blackburn Rovers soon followed.

Fast forward nearly three years and Lyons is off on the next leg of his journey.

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Earlier this month the 23-year-old moved to League Two outfit Morecambe on loan.

Brad in action for Blackburn Rovers Under-23s against TottenhamBrad in action for Blackburn Rovers Under-23s against Tottenham
Brad in action for Blackburn Rovers Under-23s against Tottenham


Now making your debut for any club is special but Lyons’ bow for the Shrimps will live long in his memory as he came on as a second-half substitute in their FA Cup third round tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

“It’s crazy when you look back and think about it because at the time you don’t really take in what’s happening as it’s just another game of football,” said Lyons.

“But I’d just made my FA Cup debut for Morecambe, which is a big thing, at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, it was surreal.

Brad in action against Celtic whilst on loan at St Mirren in 2019Brad in action against Celtic whilst on loan at St Mirren in 2019
Brad in action against Celtic whilst on loan at St Mirren in 2019
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“It was a great experience and one I’ll never forget to be honest.

“They were unbelievable, they were so good. Every one of them are top, top athletes, they were so sharp on the ball and aware of everything.

“Someone like Kai Havertz when you watch him on television you think you could do things as good as him or you think he maybe doesn’t look that quick.

“But when you’re up against him he is so sharp, his movement is really good and he’s so hard to mark.

“It’s crazy and TV doesn’t do those guys justice.

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“It’s the levels too because when you think about it, what Chelsea did to us Manchester City did to them.

“Those different levels in football are crazy.”

Lyons’ FA Cup appearance at Stamford Bridge completed a very special hat-trick for him.

It means he has now played in all three domestic cup competitions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England!

“I was thinking about it on the way home on the bus it’s class for me personally to have played in the three top cups in Great Britain,” said Lyons.

“It’s a great achievement and one I’m proud of.

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“Hopefully maybe in the future I can add to my Irish Cup winner’s medal with a win in one of the other cups.”

Unfortunately Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners at The Bridge but Lyons is focusing his attention on helping Morecambe push on in the league now.


The Ballymoney man feels he is in the best shape of his career and is hoping to break into the Shrimps starting 11.

“Lockdown was probably a positive for me because I got myself into the best shape I’ve ever been in,” said Lyons.

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“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and it’s paying off on the pitch.

“I had a good December and I scored a few goals for the Under-23s.

“I was always trying to break into the Blackburn first team, but there’s so much competition, especially in midfield.

“Thankfully Morecambe came calling, Derek Adams, the gaffer, was really keen to get me in.

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“They are doing well in League Two and I just thought it would be a good move to get more experience under my belt.

“Obviously I want to help Morecambe, but in a selfish way I want to prove to Blackburn that I’m good enough to break into their first team.

“But if it’s not Blackburn, then somewhere else.”

Having been introduced to the rough and tumble of the Irish League at only 17, Lyons knows the value of playing competitively.

It was great grounding for him as he started off on his career, and he is hoping for a similar impact during his spell in League Two.

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“The standard in League Two is very good, teams and players are equal to each other, but it’s the competitive edge and the results-based factors that come into play,” said Lyons.

“In League football everyone is playing for their family and a pay cheque as such, they have that competitiveness and a will to win.

“At Under-23 level it’s about development and trying to push on to the first team. Of course results matter but it’s about development ultimately.

“At League level it’s all about results and that’s when the pressure comes in, and you get the experience about seeing games out so you can handle different situations and scenarios.”


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The beginning of 2020-21 was impressive for Lyons, who netted six goals in the final six Under-23s games of 2020.

That form didn’t go unnoticed by first-team boss Tony Mowbray, who named him in the Blackburn Rovers 20-man squad for their encounter with Rotherham United back in December.

Lyons may not have sampled his first taste of Championship action but Mowbray felt his recent form for the development squad warranted a place in his Rovers side.

Speaking after the game, Mowbray was full of praise for the 23-year-old.

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“I thought Brad deserved his chance. He’s scored five goals in his last three or four games for the U23s. He’s an absolute warrior,” he said.

“So we put him on the bench and he totally warranted it. Brad is a diamond of a kid who would run through a brick wall for anybody.”

For Lyons it was another stand-out moment on his journey.

“The call up to the first-team squad meant a lot to me,” he said.

“This is my third season at Blackburn so to get into the first-team squad was a really proud moment and one I’ll never forget with the shirt and stuff.

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“It shows that I have been doing well. I was always close to it, I’ve always been training with the first team but trying to break into the squad was very difficult.”


Despite already reaching some big milestones along his career Lyons has one big dream he is desperate to achieve.

Being involved with his country in a senior international would be the ultimate for the former Coleraine man.

He has spoken to Ian Baraclough in the past and he knows that the new boss is keen to give young players an opportunity.

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For now though Lyons is focused on performing at club level and seeing where that takes him.

“When he (Baraclough) was with the Under-21s I spoke on the phone with him a few times, he is a very nice guy and he does give young players a chance,” he said.

“At the minute I’m just focusing on myself and my performances at Morecambe and try and break into their starting 11.

“I want to get games under my belt and wherever that takes me it takes me.

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“If I was to get a call-up to the national team that would be the pinnacle and a dream come true.

“Every child wants to play for their country, and if I got a chance to be involved in a squad and pull on that green and white top it would definitely be a dream come true for me and my family.

“In the short-term I just want to try and get as many games as I can under my belt for Morecambe in the league, but as a team I want to win as many games as we can and try and push for the play-offs.

“It’s important that we keep pushing towards the top end of the table and see where it takes us.

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“Long-term, with that experience, hopefully I can impress Blackburn, or even other teams if my future is away from Ewood Park.

“I just want to keep developing and improving and see where it takes me.”


With his determination and talent Lyons will undoubtedly carve out a successful career in the game for himself.

One player he is tipping to hit the big time is Blackburn loanee Harvey Elliott.

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The 17-year-old Liverpool star has been in sparkling form for Rovers since moving to Ewood Park and Lyons says he is a joy to watch.

“I think he’s definitely got a very big future ahead of him,” he said.

“He’s absolutely unbelievable, he’s a special talent and definitely one for the future.

“From training with him and watching him in matches he’s doing things and playing passes that you don’t really see yourself but he delivers them.

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“If he keeps going the way he’s going, and how hard he works as well, he’ll be one to watch in the future.”


It’s obviously very different times for football and players at the minute with Covid.

Protocols are being strictly adhered to, but Lyons hopes it won’t be too far in the future before fans will be back in grounds again.

“Everything is done properly here,” he said.

“Social distancing is in place everywhere, we’re not allowed in the training facilities we literally report to the ground, train, get a packed lunch and leave again.

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“We’re not in any buildings or in any close contact with people apart from the 90-minute training session and we are getting tested twice a week.

“It’s good for fans that games are going on as it would be awful at this time if people didn’t have games to watch as I think it’s helping people’s mental health.

“They can still support their teams, which is great.

“It is tough as there are so many fixtures, but that’s what we get paid for, that’s our job, and if you can’t play a couple of games a week then you’re in the wrong job.

“Sport is entertainment and it’s not the same without fans, it’s far from it, but hopefully we can get the fans back into stadiums again as soon as possible.

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“Fans make a massive difference to the game with the entertainment and the sheer delight you get off the even miss the criticism from them!

“Hopefully, we’ll get them back in as quickly as possible but also when it’s as safe as possible as well.”



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