Roberts: Rochdale experience has been huge learning curve

The young defender is learning about life on and off the field in League One.

By Charlie Hanson • 24 February 2021

By Rochdale AFC
Haydon Roberts made 25 appearances for Rochdale last season.

Haydon Roberts reckons his season-long loan with Rochdale has improved him both as a player and a person.

A regular in the Dale line-up since his arrival at Spotland, the 18-year-old has enjoyed adjusting to the rigours of the third tier.

“One thing that you get told but don't necessarily realise until you're in the middle of it is that experience of fighting for three points, where people are depending on you.

“There are so many demands that filter down to the players from people at the club - hierarchy, staff, supporters and your teammates. Having that experience at 18 is going to put me in a good place for the rest of my career.

By Rochdale AFC
The 18-year-old has been a regular for Dale so far this campaign.

“I am putting more expectation on myself than I did before and you have to do that at this level if you want to be taken seriously by your teammates and your opponents.

"I have been kicked from pillar-to-post in quite a few games. I am coming up against 6ft 4in strikers who are going to elbow me for 90 minutes and who want me to react so you have to be mentally strong.

“When I first came up against players like that I was questioning myself and wondering if I actually wanted to play.

By Rochdale AFC
Dale are in a fight to avoid relegation, sitting two points outside the bottom four ahead of last night's match against Northampton Town.

“In my first game I was marking a striker from a corner and he gave me a dig in the stomach – I didn't know how I was going to cope with it, but I have learned to be resilient. Because I am young they want to get the better of me.”

It hasn't been a straightforward process for Roberts off the pitch either as he initially struggled to get to grips with life away from home.

“Growing up I relied on my parents to cook my food and wash my clothes. I threw myself in at the deep end in that sense without realising it and the first couple of weeks were tough, but not only have I improved as a player I have improved as a person.

“Those life skills and lessons will stay with me forever and that's only because of the loan.”