TEENAGE prodigy Luke James was a two-goal hero for Hartlepool United on Saturday as the dream start to his professional football career continued.
And Pools boss Neale Cooper has said that the 17-year-old Amble lad is as good as any young star he has worked with.
The glowing praise follows James’ double in the Victoria Park side’s 4-0 npower League One romp over Carlisle United at the weekend.
It enhanced his ever-growing reputation, coming hot on the heels of his first senior goal last month – a stunning strike against Rochdale.
His emphatic burst onto the senior stage comes just months after he signed a pro contract at the club, following time in the youth ranks.
And manager Cooper believes Pools have unearthed a real gem.
“Luke is right up there with the best young talents I’ve ever had,” he said, after James’ heroics helped rocket Pools to 10th in the league and sealed their biggest win of the season.
“He’s a level-headed boy and has no fear – not just about his play on the ball, but he takes knocks and is not scared. To have that courage for a young lad is very good.”
James opened the scoring after six minutes when his first-time steer was diverted into the back of the net via the boot of a visiting defender, while his second was a vicious smash into the roof of the net.
It earned him another man-of-the-match prize and a standing ovation from his senior colleagues when he returned to the home dressing room.
James feels that his double blast was even better than his stunning debut strike, but admits he is still pinching himself.
“I’m still not getting used to it – it still feels like a dream,” said the former Coquet High School pupil, who grabbed his brace in front of nearly 6,000 fans. “It was another great afternoon and everything seemed to work again.
“My mam and dad were there and I managed to find them in the crowd when I scored the first.
“I have to mention my sister, Rebecca. It was her 21st birthday and she said if I score I had to celebrate for her, so that was nice. Two of my best mates from Amble travelled all the way down on the train to come and watch me as well and that was great – it was just a brilliant day again.”