Mathew Mallon joined Everton's Academy at the age of just 4 years
old. When the defender was with the club's under-15s, he sustained a
stress fracture to his back thanks to his growth that sidelined him for
an extended period. Having finally come back and been fit to kick a ball
again for just around two months, he suffered the same injury once again
- leaving him sidelined for a combined stretch of about 16 months.
"That was a hard period for me. Playing football since I was four,
having such a long period out was hard, not being able to touch a ball.
But Everton helped me with it a lot, it was me and the physios. When
you're injured, you don't really have contact with the team, you see
coaches every now and then but not much.
"The physios helped me a lot, they're a good team. A lot of gym work
was needed. At the same time, they sit you down and talk to you about
how you feel and they were good with me. I like that, and it got me
"It was an important time, because that's when my scholarship was
getting decided, so I was a bit unsure about whether they were going to
give me it.
"I came back in, and then it happened again, but not as serious. It
put me out for a bit of my first year as a scholar. Since then, I've had
the treatment I needed and the work I needed, and it's not affected me
Having been injured while playing for the Under-15s, Mallon was now
coming back into a completely new environment with Paul Tait and his
Under-18 squad. The defender had to be reintroduced to the side slowly,
playing 45 minutes of his first match for the U18s against Leeds United
in December 2020 as a left back.
Mallon's athletic ability is clear whenever he takes to the
pitch, and he's becoming more adept in the final third after spending
most of his development as a strong defensive player. And he scored in a
brilliant performance in the FA Youth Cup against Wigan. His performance
in that particular match in March 2021 certainly caught the eye
of David Unsworth, as he named the 17-year-old in his Under-23 squad to
face Arsenal at Southport just a few days later.
A first-half injury to Einar Iversen meant that Mallon was called
upon to play at right-midfield, and he capped off a bullish performance
with an assist for Everton's goal in a 1-1 draw. The defender made a
further three appearances from the bench for Unsworth's side and played
a starring role for the U18s as they reached the quarter finals of the
FA Youth Cup.
For the start of the 2021-22 season, the 17-year-old continued to
work with Paul Tait's U-18s: "U18s football is still a very high level,
but when you play for the U23s and then come back down to the U18s,
you've got a slight advantage.
"U23s football is a lot faster, a lot more physical. You've got it in
your mind when you play for the U18s. Obviously that's my age, it's not
like I'm dropping down or going up a few levels.
"I'm playing against the same standard of player, but because I've
had the taste of U23s football it's always in your mind on how to play.
You are expected to have that slight bit of advantage."
In 2021-22, Mathew would stay with the U18s, playing just one game
for the U23s, their first of the season in the Premier League Cup. And
half way through the season, in January 2022, he would stop playing for
the U18s. And in April 2022, aged just 18, he would decide to leave
Everton, with the avowed intention of joining Blackburn Rovers in
July of that year. No explanations given.
However, his name would be a surprise inclusion on a list of
youngsters offered new contracts in June 2022.
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* Everton deducted 10 points for PSR breachView full table