Warburton 'absolutely loving' his time at Cobblers, but opens up on struggles to adapt to professional football

Matty Warburton was surprised to even start at Oldham last Saturday, let alone score, having only just returned to training after injury.
Matty Warburton was surprised to even start at Oldham last Saturday, let alone score, having only just returned to training after injury.

The dream of giving up the day job to become a full-time footballer turned into reality for Matty Warburton in the summer, but the transition hasn't been as smooth as he might have expected.

Northampton were not the only club to scout Stockport County's free-scoring midfielder, who netted 40 goals in 2018, before they convinced him to quit teaching and sign his first professional contract back at the end of last season.

However, becoming a full-time athlete means changes off the pitch as well as on it and with that comes unexpected challenges.

It's only now, three months into his time at the Cobblers, that Warburton feels he's cracked it.

"It's been up and down," admits the 27-year-old. "I feel like I've done OK in terms of when I've played games but I feel like I have a lot more to give.

"I'm overthinking my game a little bit too much at times and I'm thinking between the levels too much in terms of where I've come from and where I am now and I just need to play naturally.

"The gaffer me pulled me to one side before the game at Oldham and the best thing he said to me was 'just go and play' and that relaxed me and I went and got that goal.

"In terms of the transition, I'm still absolutely loving it. It's completely different to anything I'm used to - I've never had so much free time before!"

And it's all that free time which has created a welcome but also unexpected problem for Warburton.

"It's obviously a blessing but I've found it difficult if I'm being honest," he says. "I looked at all sorts - I think I've completed Netflix!

"I looked at carrying on my degree and there's a guitar sat in my house and I was thinking about guitar lessons

"Coming from a teaching background, football was always secondary so I never really overthought it too much and that's one of the problems I've had coming into it full-time.

"All I think about now is how I'm playing and over-analysing training sessions and games. I did that up until a couple of weeks ago.

"But I've calmed myself down now and I'm just taking things for what they are. I'm really enjoying it but I'd like to add my name to a few more goals."

It didn't help when Warburton missed a couple of weeks with a minor injury problem.

"I had a scan on my knee and it turned out to be a historical tear that I had on my ACL," he explains.

"I never actually knew about it but it caused a cyst in my knee which then caused swelling inside so we didn't know what to do with it until the scan results came back.

"It's something I can play with though and it won't be a problem. It might flare-up every now and again but Nacho is fairly confident that I'll be fine.

"I was buzzing to get back into training last Monday and to be fair I was surprised to be in the team last Saturday but hopefully I paid the gaffer back."

Having scored his first ever goal in league football just six minutes into Town's 2-2 draw at Boundary Park, Warburton certainly repaid his manager's faith.

"That's the type of goal everyone likes scoring," he adds. "You can't miss from there - although I did my best!

"But I've been crying out for a tap-in and I just needed one to go in so hopefully that'll be the first of many."