TOP TEENAGE starlet, Joshua Tracey is thriving on his recent emergence in Derry City’s first team squad after he was thrust onto the European stage last Thursday night at Brandywell Stadium.
The Galliagh lad has long been touted as a potential star of the future but he’s clearly flourishing under the management of Peter Hutton.
His European debut in the second half of the 4-0 victory over Aberystwyth Town, came just six weeks after he made his Brandywell bow.
Indeed, he came so close to announcing himself in Hutton’s first team with his first goal for the club but was denied a last gasp equaliser in the League Cup quarter-final defeat to Dundalk, by a wonderful save by Gabriel Sava.
But to make his Europa League debut as an 18 year-old - alongside 21 year-old Nathan Boyle - is a tremendous feat and evidence of his emerging talent and potential.
The 2014 season has been a whirlwind campaign for the youngster which began with the news he was invited for a trial at Premiership clubs, Manchester United and Everton.
And he’s clearly completed his transition from the club’s Academy and Reserve squads and has become a regular fixture on the ‘Candy Stripes’ first team teamsheet.
Last Thursday’s Europa League appearance in front of almost 2,500 supporters was the best moment of his Derry City career so far!
“It was a great atmosphere, I loved every minute I was out there,” he said afterwards. “I think it’s probably the biggest crowd that’s been here this season and it was great.
“When that crowd is behind you it really is an unbelievable feeling. It’s the best feeling I’ve had. I loved every minute of it and it was a great result,” he added.
“I made my Brandywell debut earlier in the season in a cup game which was a similar feeling for me but there’s nothing better than experiencing a European cup game here.
“It was the best feeling ever and hopefully I can keep pushing on and keep improving.”
When Hutton gave him the nod to replace the injured Mark Timlin on 68 minutes Derry were cruising 3-0 against the 10 men of Aberystwyth and he didn’t look out of place. In fact Tracey showed great confidence when attempting to add to the home side’s goal tally.
“We were flying and should have hit them for a few more. It was comfortable when they went down to 10 men and we were disciplined. We didn’t give anything away.
“And it was great that both Nathan (Boyle) and myself got on because maybe last year we weren’t getting the recognition we deserved because there wasn’t as many young boys in the team last year.
“We’re pushing on now this year and we’re helping each other out both the younger boys and the more experienced ones so it’s great.
Tracey had an opportunity to join Championship club, Nottingham Forest last year but decided to reject the move in favour of signing a two year professional contract with Derry City.
And having been fast-tracked to first team duties, he clearly hasn’t looked back!