MOTHERWELL manager Graham Alexander believes that his goalkeeper, Liam Kelly, is the perfect role model for any player “trapped” in a lucrative contract with a club which has no intention of using them in their first team.

Many young footballers are snapped up by wealthy clubs attracted by their potential, only to find themselves wasting away on the periphery as short-term fixes and bigger names prevail. Kelly had been there.

The 25-year-old joined Queen’s Park Rangers from Livingston in 2019 but, although he made 22 appearances during his first campaign, Kelly didn’t see a minute of game time in 2020/21. He was on the bench for each of their first 23 Championship and EFL Cup matches but first Joe Lumley and then current incumbent, Seny Dieng started ahead of him as it became clear that manager Mark Warburton was unlikely to.

Kelly earning good money at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium but derived no satisfaction from it and was allowed to make a temporary move during the winter window, shipping up at Motherwell 24 hours before Alexander was appointed to succeed Stephen Robinson at Fir Park.

Alexander immediately installed the newcomer as his first-choice for the remainder of the season.

During the summer, he came to an agreement with the London club which saw him walk away from an agreement which had two years still to run. He hasn’t missed a game since, forcing his way back into Scotland manager Steve Clarke’s plans and underlining Alexander’s belief that glory trumps cash every time.

“When Liam joined us on loan in January he was desperate to play football and it was clear to him that he wasn’t going to get an opportunity [with QPR],” he said.

“He was on a very good contract and we couldn’t get close to matching it but he was determined to play. He’d had the experience of being a No.1 here and at Livingston and – if you have the mentality Liam has - it’s a very difficult scenario when you’ve had that and it’s taken away from you.

“He’s ambitious and he knew, after spending four months with us, what our ambitions are for the future and he wanted to commit himself to us and be part of that. Trust me, once you’ve retired you don’t remember what car you were driving when you were 26 but you remember what trophies you won and the matches you played in.

“The important thing for footballers is their career and being on the pitch as often as possible and that’s how Kells feels as well. We all have bills to pay and kids to feed but, if you’re a professional footballer, then your first priority should be playing football. There are guys who would be content to sit there and take the money and you can’t have a go at them because the clubs are paying it and it all depends on your lifestyle – you might need those big wages.

“But I think it can sometimes be a trap which players fall into: they think they’re successful because they’re earning a lot of cash but real success is being part of a winning team on the pitch and having those memories because they’ll be with you forever. Scotland was a driving force in his motivation to come back to us. He wanted to put himself in the shop window for Steve Clarke and he’s had the experience of being back in the international squad this season, which is great for him and for us.”