MATTY LONGSTAFF is back in the room where his world came crashing down as a kid.
He and his big brother are here to discuss their joint journey from fighting each other in the garden to playing together at St James’ Park.
Such is the strength of their sibling bond, Sean wells up with pride reflecting on Matty’s match-winning debut goal against Manchester United earlier this month.
Yet the conversation between Newcastle’s new homegrown midfield pairing also takes them back to a time when the tears shed were not of happiness but of heartbreak.
Sitting in a suite at the Toon’s training ground Matty, 19, said: “It was in here.
“I finally got the chance to train with Newcastle. It was a four-week thing.
“And they pulled me and one other kid in this door right here and said, ‘Thanks for coming, but we’re not going to keep you’.
“I walked out crying. It was one of the toughest things you can go through as a kid. But when you look back, it fired me up to get where I am. It all comes from that moment. It really p****d me off.
“I reckon I was about 11 but I came back and signed for the Under-13s. I had more fire in my belly — I didn’t want to ever be rejected again.”
From that night he said, ‘Nobody is going to be able to do this to me again’.
Matty’s story is why, for Sean, seeing his little brother score meant even more to him than when he got his own first goal for Newcastle — in an FA Cup win at Blackburn in January.
Sean, 21, said: “When he was rejected, I was in the car with him on the way home and he was crying.
“From that night he said, ‘Nobody is going to be able to do this to me again’.
“And it felt like everything had been building to that moment he scored.
“I actually froze for a second. I thought I was going to start crying. It was pure happiness. Even now I get a bit emotional talking about it.
“I think it was a better feeling than when I scored my first goal. Just the occasion, him being so young and it being his debut, knowing everything he has been through when he was younger to get to that point.
“If you had told us a year ago this was going to happen, we both would have laughed.
“To have two brothers from North Shields, at 19 and 21, starting a Premier League game is pretty crazy.”
Indeed, it has not even been 12 months since Sean made his own top-flight debut.
That came on Boxing Day at Anfield, when he revealed he was so scared his shorts were going to fall down that he tied them “ridiculously tight”.
And Matty has his own anecdote to share about how felt before his bow against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
He admitted: “This might sound dead stupid but the thing that calmed my nerves was when I walked out with the mascot and I was playing passes with him!
“I remember thinking, ‘Just get some good touches in here. Just get a feel for the ball. I know it’s just a little kid but make my passes count!’”
When the game kicked off, Matty was soon into his stride, spraying passes about before beating David De Gea from 22 yards in the 72nd minute.
He was the man of the match but said live on TV it should have been his brother, who he reckons he has “still got a bit of catching up to do on.”
But Sean said: “He is miles ahead of me. At 19, I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t have done what he has done — controlling the tempo of a Premier League game.
“I remember being in the tunnel thinking, ‘This is the best seat in the house — getting to watch him walk out for the first time at St James’ Park as a brother and team-mate’.
“We genuinely love each other. Whenever times are good or bad, we will try to be there for each other.
“Like any brothers, we argue, and there are times when you will fall out. But we got the fighting out of the way when we were younger! We used to fight a lot then.
“My mam once had to go to Newcastle and the club had to have a word with us and say, ‘You need to behave at home and stop fighting!’”
Matty explains how some scraps stemmed from “back- garden cricket, when I used to get him out all the time!”
Cricket is something both brothers shone at and could have led to different careers.
Matty said: “I remember when I was U13s, I wasn’t doing so well in football and I was doing really well in cricket.
“I played for Northumberland county and people were saying, ‘I could see you going to the top’. I told my dad I might concentrate on cricket and he gave me a clip round the ear as if to say, ‘There’s not a chance that’s happening!’”
Sean added: “He was the best cricketer. I used to spend hours bowling at him and couldn’t get him out.
“But when I'd grown, I did get better at cricket.
“There was a finals day at my club Tynemouth and some of the Durham coaches were asking the lads, ‘Who's that? Does he want to come and have a trial?'
“The guys from Tynemouth laughed and said, 'If you can persuade him to leave Newcastle and come and play cricket then best of luck to you!’"
The Longstaff brothers are not the only sporting members of their family, however.
Their dad, David, 45, won 101 caps for Great Britain at ice hockey and is now player-coach of the Whitley Warriors, missing his match on the rink to watch his boys beat United.
Sean smiled: “The first thing I said to him when we went up to the box after the game was, ‘I think you’ll be getting the sack from the Warriors!’
“But he’d had a few too many drinks so he didn’t really understand!
“We both really enjoyed ice hockey and we’d have both loved to play.
“We still go and watch my dad but if you could be the best player for Whitley Warriors, or a professional footballer for Newcastle, there’s not much of a comparison.”
The boys’ mum, Michelle, 45, also had trials for England at netball and their younger sister Milly, 15, has been scouted by Netball Superleague teams.
If that sounds a familiar back story, that is because it is.
Gary and Phil Neville played together for boyhood club Manchester United, having also been junior cricketers at Lancashire, while sister, Tracey, was an England netballer and coach.
Sean added: “It’s funny — you look at the Nevilles and those two played in the Premier League and their sister was a netballer. So we’ve said to Milly, ‘We’ve done our little bit, it’s up to you now!’”
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