"Rickie was always a strong lad and had an eye for goal that has stayed with him," McAuley told the Daily Mail. "But he always worked very hard, he wanted to learn and he was determined.
"It’s never easy to let kids leave, and it wasn’t easy to break the news to Rickie. But our job at the academy is to give those who don’t make it as much information and help as we can and he took it on board. He comes from good Liverpool stock.
"The desire to work hard and have dedication should be a pre- requisite — look at Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher — but not every footballer has it. With Ricky, they were his biggest qualities and it’s why we had confidence he would go on to earn a living from the game.
"Our paths crossed a few years later, when he was with Southampton (in 2009) and I was working at Stockport. He scored a poacher’s goal from six yards, they won 2-0. I gave him a hug afterwards and wished him all the best. Isn’t it great that it has gone full circle for him? He will be elated."
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