How Rowley rose through the ranks '“ academy boss reveals secret to Joe's ascent
Chesterfield academy boss Mark Smith has held Joe Rowley up as a leading example for the club's other teenagers to follow.
The attacking midfielder broke into Gary Caldwell’s squad towards the end of the season and made seven consecutive starts.
His performances led to a professional contract and reported interest from clubs at a higher level.
Smith, who helped develop the 18-year-old in the club’s youth system, has added to the rave reviews Rowley has received.
He says the youngster is exactly what the academy sets out to produce.
“Joe is very much like what we try and get out of our academy players,” he said.
“Great attitude, wants to learn, really coachable person.
“Athletically he’s okay, he’s not blisteringly quick but he’s got enough pace.
“He’s strong and getting stronger, I think he’s got the potential to get bigger.”
It’s not just what Rowley does on the pitch that has impressed Smith, however.
“He’s exactly like the benchmark we want our kids to be,” he said.
“Really good values, good work ethic, can play a little bit.
“Some come with traits you can’t really put in kids, you can’t get their attitudes better, that’s their nature, but Joe is not one of them.
“He just epitomises what we want off the field, his general mentality and his attitude to football.”
And there’s no doubt in Smith’s mind that his coaches have played a big part in Rowley’s ascent to senior football.
“It’s up to us to try and make them better,” said the former Sheffield Wednesday defender.
“He came in, released by Sheffield United, something like that and we’ve had him for about five years and you can see the difference between where he started and where he is now.”