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Championship

Hull City's homegrown hero makes his mark

From ball boy to wonder boy, Keane Lewis-Potter has made his mark after progressing through the Tigers’ ranks.

14 June 2022

It was more than three decades before Hull City's Keane Lewis-Potter was born when the Club last lifted a trophy.

But it was only fitting that the ever-present Tigers Academy graduate, alongside team-mate Jacob Greaves, were a part of the side that ended a 55-year wait for silverware.

Last term, the two became the first homegrown pair to start all 46 League games since Hull-born Chris Simpkin and Mick Milner in 1965/66 – the same year that the Tigers stormed Division Three to go up as champions.

Lewis-Potter and Greaves were given the nod to take up their places in the line-up, with the latter completing every single minute of the campaign.

The striker, on the other hand, was moments away from matching that achievement. Lewis-Potter made way in the 93rdminute of the Tigers’ opening day display against Preston North End – their first game back in the second tier.

“In the first game I came off with a minute to go,” Lewis-Potter explains. “It’s an unbelievable achievement for both of us. I’ve been able to do it with one of my best pals. We started together when I joined at 13. To have him by my side is fantastic. When you put that shirt on and see the Hull badge on the front, it makes it even more special.

“Me and a few of the other lads used to be ball boys around the stadium. You watch on and think to yourself: ‘I want to do that.’ I’ve been there as a ball boy, a fan and now I’m playing on that pitch.”

The 21-year-old, one of over 85,000 fans in the stands at Wembley Stadium as Hull edged Bristol City in the Championship Play-Off Final 2008, ended the 2020/21 campaign with a winner’s medal around their neck as Hull bounced back to the Sky Bet Championship at the first attempt, going up in style in pole position.

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“Being a Hull lad myself, getting relegated was one of probably the most down days I’ve had. You go from one of the saddest moments of your life to getting promoted next season which was one of the happiest moments of my life. It just shows you how quick your mood can change in football. We were deserved champions in the end; we were the best team in that League.”

Some three years ago, he first put pen to paper in his first deal with Hull – the Club that almost missed him at the first take, but the Tigers weren’t going to take no for an answer the second time around.

“I was just playing Sunday League football and I was aged about eight when Hull came and contacted me, so I went with one of my Sunday League friends to the Academy,” Lewis-Potter recalls.

“At that time, we were both offered to sign but, in my mind, I was thinking I just wanted to enjoy it with my friends. I’m not saying you can’t do that, but I just wanted to play football with my friends at that point. Luckily, when I turned 13, Hull came back around, thankfully, for me.

“Ever since signing, I always played a year or two higher I should have, and it’s stood me in good stead.”

He finished the most recent campaign as the Tigers’ leading marksman, with 13 strikes to his name in 48 appearances.

“It was always my aim coming into this season to be the top scorer. Last season, you could say it was a bit easier to score them goals in League One. Coming up against opposition this season, it was always going to be tough.”

Lewis-Potter became the first Hull-born player to find the back of net for his hometown team at the MKM Stadium in almost nine years to replicate one of his heroes in December 2019 in a 3-0 victory over Birmingham City.

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“The person before me was Nick Barmby, and I still talk about players like him and what a great player he was,” he smiles. “To follow in his footsteps was an unreal feeling. I was told afterwards but once you get told, you’re speechless.

“I always say this but for me the best feeling is scoring in front of fans. It’s something I’d never experienced before because it’s completely different scoring for the Academy. I came on when we were 2-0 up and got the third goal.”

Earlier this season, the attacker received his first call up to the England Under-21s squad.

The starlet marked his full debut and his first start with a goal last week, heading the Three Lions in front within two minutes of kick off as England ran out 5-0 winners over Kosovo. He then went on to grab an assist against Slovenia in a 2-1 defeat to round off a successful international break for the youngster.

“I had an idea that I was maybe getting called up for the England Under-20s squad, but that same day when I was meant to find out, I didn’t hear anything,” Lewis-Potter notes. “I got a call off Lee Carsley telling me I’d been called up to the England Under-21s squad.

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“It didn’t really hit me until I joined up with the squad, seeing the players there who are playing for their Clubs week in, week out in the Premier League. You see them boys and you want to be in that position yourself. They set the standard of where I need to get to.

“Some people can look into age too much. You get players like Jude Bellingham who is a teenager and he’s playing in the England squad. You just have to look at that really. Age is just a number and if you’re good enough, then you’ll play.

“I read a stat about so many England players making their way through the EFL and you just have to look up to that. I’m seeing players like Jarrod [Bowen] that I’ve played with going to West Ham and getting an England call up himself.”

And the forward made it a hat-trick of awards at the end-of-season ceremony, scooping the Tigers’ overall Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year for the current campaign.

“After I got the first two, I thought, ‘that’s enough’, then the third one came, and it was even bigger and heavier,” he laughs.

And, if last season is anything to go by, it might be worth investing in a trophy cabinet.

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