'He’s a legend there, in my eyes especially': Portsmouth loanee and Leicester City striker George Hirst on pressures of growing up as son of Sheffield Wednesday and England hero David Hirst

George Hirst would marvel at the sight of Sheffield Wednesday supporters pursuing his dad for photographs.

By Neil Allen
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:09 pm
George Hirst has made six appearances since arriving on a season-long loan from Leicester City. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep
George Hirst has made six appearances since arriving on a season-long loan from Leicester City. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep

The baffled youngster soon grew to realise he was in the presence of South Yorkshire footballing royalty.

David Hirst is indisputably a Hillsborough legend, plundering 149 goals in 358 games for the Owls, including registering in the 1993 FA Cup final.

Inevitably there were England outings, three in total, and netting against New Zealand in June 1991.

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George has followed in his father’s footsteps by taking up the striking profession, a career pathway bringing him to Fratton Park on a season-long loan.

Not that the 22-year-old is intimidated by the shadow of his famous dad. He embraces rather than fears the footballing connection.

George Hirst told The News: ‘When I was younger, I would walk around Hillsborough with my dad and everyone wanted their picture with him.

‘I was looking at it thinking “He’s only my dad, why would you want a photograph?”.

Sheffield Wednesday legend David Hirst celebrates after beating Chelsea in the Rumbelows League Cup semi-final second leg at Hillsbrough on February 1991. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Images

‘But, as you grow up, you see videos and start to understand what impact he had. He’s a legend there, in my eyes especially.

‘I don’t see it as a pressure because we are two completely different strikers.

‘As much as people will make the comparisons naturally, my dad is 5ft 11in, even though he tells me he’s 6ft! I’m 6ft 4in. He’s left footed, I’m right footed.

‘So straight away I don’t see the comparison at all, there are differences.

‘Growing up with that hasn’t been a pressure, I’ve seen it as a free learning tool. You can have the best coach in the world, but to have someone like that on my doorstep at home every night, looking at my clips, giving me little pointers, is invaluable.

‘I would love to be able to retire and say I played for England more times than he did!

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‘He also spends a lot of time talking about his goal in the 1992 FA Cup final, so if I can score a couple that would be brilliant.

‘Dad has never put any pressure on me, which a lot of people would be surprised about.

‘When I was younger, I was told that if I wanted to be a ballet dancer then he’d be quite happy.

‘It was up to me. I chose to play football.’

Hirst junior emerged through Sheffield Wednesday’s youth ranks to follow his dad in representing the club.

He made two appearances for the Owls before departing for Belgium club Oud-Heverlee Leuven in June 2018.

That was followed by a switch to Leicester City, while he spent last season on loan at Rotherham in the Championship.

Now the Sheffield Wednesday fan is seeking to develop further at Fratton Park, with six outings to date.

He added: ‘Dad has always said to me there are things I’ll do right, things I’ll do wrong, but I’ve got to work it out myself at times.

‘It’s no good having someone else there telling you everything you need to do and know – otherwise you’ll never learn anything for yourself.’

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