These boots are made for...

ONE of the quotes of the domestic season a few years back came from Sligo Rovers boss Paul Cook in reference to his combative midfielder and fellow scouser, Danny Ventre.

Ventre had drawn blood from the foot of Derry City striker Sammy Morrow in a typically robust challenge, with the visitors to the Showgrounds demanding afterwards to see Ventre’s boots, implying they had improper studs.

“Danny gets his boots off Steven Gerrard,” said Cook.

“So, if you’ve got a problem with Danny Ventre’s boots you better go and ask to see Steven Gerrard.”

Not exactly hand-me-downs, mind, though sourced nonetheless from the Liverpool captain through Ventre’s sister.

“My sister goes out with his best friend and he gets them through him,” explained Ventre, who captained Sligo to last year’s FAI Ford Cup final victory over Shamrock Rovers as Richie Ryan was suspended.

“They’re not [literally] Steven Gerrard’s boots. People think they are, but they’re not. I’m a size smaller, he just gets them for me.”

Curiously, Ventre, like Cook a Red till he dies, has an even closer connection with another rather famous Merseysider — a certain Wayne Rooney.

“I was in school with Wayne Rooney, he was in my class,” said Ventre of their time at De La Salle in Croxteth.

“I played with him until Everton told him to stop playing for the school. We used to win 9-0 every week. He was the size he is now. He was already a man before we were. We used to give him the ball and he used to score nine every week.

“He was brilliant. You knew he was always going to play. I used to knock around with him for a bit.

“Obviously, when he was 15 or 16, he was going away with Everton a lot. I wasn’t with a club at that stage, I went to Blackpool when I was 15 for a month or two.”

While Rooney’s career has reached stellar status, Ventre offers a wry smile on their very different career paths as he contemplates the dole from next week.

“It finishes now after this game,” explained 25-year-old Ventre of his contract.

“A lot of the lads go and sign on next Monday. I think that’s the way with the whole of the league to be honest with you. I don’t know any team in our league that pays 52-week contracts. That’s the hard part about it now, the way the world is.”

Sligo’s hard man says he’s toned down his recklessness in the tackle this season, joking that he’s disappointed with only five bookings so far compared to the 12 he got last year.

Ventre will continue to tread warily at the Aviva Stadium against Shelbourne tomorrow afternoon, however. Cup final referee Richie Winter has sent him off twice.

So you’re on a hat-trick? “Don’t be saying that!”

Meanwhile, being firm favourites doesn’t sit easy with Cook.

“It’s not good, not great. People are quick to judge games and say Sligo will win and whatever,” said Cook.

“Shelbourne are a very strong team and have very good players. In a cup final, in a one-off game, anything can happen. It’s important how players react to the occasion because it is a different game no matter what anyone says.

“When you drive up to the Aviva, it has a feel, but I do hope that the experience our lads have had of playing in Europe, of playing in finals will stand them in good stead.”

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