New Everton signing James McCarthy says his success is all down to his family -- and that his father’s battle with cancer means that the midfielder never loses his sense of perspective on life.
McCarthy joined Everton from Wigan for £13 million on deadline day, and is set to make his debut against Chelsea in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Before then, the 22-year-old will line up for the Republic of Ireland as they attempt to salvage faint hopes of World Cup qualification by beating Austria in Vienna on Tuesday evening.
The midfielder insists he would not have made it as a footballer without the support of mother Marie and father Willie while he was growing up in Scotland.
McCarthy, born and raised in Glasgow but eligible for Ireland through his grandparents, told the Daily Record: “I owe everything to my family and I will always be in their debt.
"My mum and dad were virtually taxi drivers for me when I was young, driving me here and there for football training and to matches and they never complained.
“They didn’t know I was going to make it as a professional but if it wasn’t for them it would never have happened.”
McCarthy, who has reportedly bought his parents a £1 million home in Glasgow to thank them for their support in bringing him up, believes a strong family background has been a major help to him.
He withdrew from Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad when his father was diagnosed with cancer, and feels that the health scare has reinforced the sense of just how important his family is to him.
McCarthy senior still has to attend hospital for check-ups, but has responded well to treatment.
“My dad is doing really well,” the Everton midfielder said. “The family have had some very tough times but we have stuck together and we’re pulling through.
“The most important thing is your family. Football is a big thing in my life but when you have to deal with the upset cancer brings to a family, you realise what is most important.”
McCarthy’s signing has ensured Everton five new supporters – his mother and father, plus sister Lisa and brothers Paul and Bryan.
The midfielder said: “We are a really close-knit family and always have been.
“Paul, Bryan and my sister Lisa have come down to watch me at Wigan, as have my parents. That always gives me a lift.
“They will be getting down to see me at Goodison.”