"You need to try your hardest every day because, honestly, it can turn like that."

Irish striker Ryan Cassidy on scoring at Anfield, moving from Dublin to London, coping with a family loss and trying to make it in the Premier League.

"I pulled one on my right foot wide. I thought that was going to be my chance and it was over. But luckily the ball fell to me again and I scored."

Ryan Cassidy talks about the goal he scored into the Kop end at Anfield in the FA Youth Cup semi-final on St Patrick's day. For the first time in our chat, the Watford striker undersells himself. There was nothing lucky about the goal.

After his teammate dispossessed a Liverpool midfielder and the ball spun into space, Cassidy reacted quickest. The Dubliner collected the ball around 40-yards from goal before knocking it ahead of him.

There were two opposition defenders bearing down on him, but there was no catching Cassidy. The forward, who has just turned 18, was a player possessed, his determination and focus evident. He knew this was his chance. Cassidy steadied himself and buried the ball with his left foot beyond the onrushing Liverpool goalkeeper and into the roof of the net.

It was like a goal Jamie Vardy would score, or Fernando Torres, a player Ryan watched growing up as a Liverpool supporter in Castleknock.

"I was buzzing, especially a goal against Liverpool, it was just unbelievable, so surreal."

Just a few months before the goal, he had attended a Champions League game at Anfield as a fan. However, from the moment he walked out on the pitch as a player, the Watford Under-18 captain was thinking like a professional.

"At the start of the game, I switched it around because I thought I'd get into their heads. They would want to attack the Kop second half, so I switched it. It just fell into my hands that I scored in the Kop."

Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Stephen Kenny said recently that there is a special crop of Irish players emerging that were born in 2000 and 2001.

Cassidy might be the best goalscorer of the group. He may be only at the beginning of his journey in professional football, but he finishes like a seasoned striker when in front of goal.

Since joining Watford from St Kevin's Boys in July 2017, Cassidy has scored 48 goals in 58 games. He was the team's key player in their impressive run in the FA Youth Cup this season, scoring seven goals in four games in the prestigious competition.

In one tie against Ipswich Town, he scored twice and registered two assists. On his debut for Watford's Under-23 team, he scored a hat-trick. Cassidy was just 16 at the time. The striker was part of the Ireland Under-16 team that won the Victory Shield in 2017 and recently represented the country at Under-18 level.

Luis Suarez and Diego Costa are among his favourite forwards. Like the pair, he places a premium on working hard and pressing from the front, something that was instilled in him as a player with St Kevin's Boys

"I think most of all what we look for here is how they work," Alan Caffrey, Head of Development for St Kevin's says.

"They all want to be footballers, but there's very few of them that want to put the work in to be footballers."

Cassidy isn't one of those. He left home as a 16-year-old to work towards becoming a professional footballer across the water, swapping west Dublin for the metropolis of London in an attempt to beat the odds.

He has all the attributes needed to thrive in one of the most competitive environments in world sport. And certainly fits the criteria for the "natural goalscorer" that Martin O'Neill spoke about so often during his time as Ireland manager.

"He had a hunger, goalscoring was his forte. He had a presence that he wanted to do well," Brendan Birmingham reflects when asked about the centre-forward who joined the club at Under-9 level.

Birmingham has been St Kevin's secretary since 1986. He and Caffrey have seen countless players pass through the club, one of the most proficient developers of talent in Irish sport.

Liam Brady, Damien Duff, Ian Harte, Stephen Carr, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick all played here before going on to represent Ireland. Jack Byrne is the latest St Kevin's graduate to get a call-up to the senior squad. Cassidy stood out from the time he joined the club.

"To put it simply, he's a goalscorer," Caffrey states.

"He has many other parts of his game, but he's a goalscorer.

"For example, I did a finishing thing with our centre-forwards last week and I showed them his goals. It's not about him shooting into the net. It's how he takes it in, how he touches it - that's really the detail, rather than hitting the back of the net."

At St Kevin's, the forward progressed from small-sided games to become a prolific goalscorer in 11-a-side football. Since signing for Watford, moving over to London and becoming a professional footballer, his record in front of goal has not wavered, despite the increased level of competition.

"It doesn't really affect me," he says about missing chances in a game, displaying the self-belief that all great strikers need.

"It's not really a cocky mentality. It's just saying to yourself, 'you know you're good enough. The next chance you'll get you'll score'. So, I just say, 'listen you know you're good enough to score the next one so who cares about that one."

Cassidy chose Watford over other English clubs, such as Brighton and Hove Albion and Stoke City, in part because of the appeal of London. A brave decision for a teenager who admits that the capital city can be "mad."

"There's not a square metre where there's no-one standing."

The pace also ratcheted up on the pitch when he arrived, something that was apparent from his first day with the Hornets. Football was now a job and in stark contrast to how he played the game back home in Dublin.

"Schoolboy level when I was here, it was fun. You play here, see your mates, you go back home and you just live your life. But, over there, if you don't play well you're on the bench and you might not get a contract, then you have no job and then you've no money. That's the way you have to look at it."

"The first training session was pre-season. The running. I remember that I couldn't keep up with the pace. I'll be honest, I knew it would be hard, but I never knew it would be that hard. Because the jump is so big. They're all athletes. I'd say I'm up to that standard now. No disrespect to schoolboy football, but the players are not going to have the same physique or like fitness-wise as in over in England.

"When I went over first, I was really small. There were a few that are my age and are nearly six foot two or six foot three. Now, they'd be still the same height but I've caught up to them. I'm now mostly trying to work on my physique. I think it's been paying off for the past year because, the start of last year, I was looking at myself and compared to now I'm nearly double the size."

In addition to the physical step-up, he is more than aware that he is now operating in an extremely difficult industry. Professional football is littered with talented players who lose their way after signing their first contract, thinking they have "made it."

"I'd always say to any parent if their son is going over, 'if you think when your son has signed that they have made it do you realise, that the scout is trying to get someone to take their place?" Birmingham states when speaking about the pitfalls for young Irish players in English football.

Caffrey says likewise. Complacency ends careers before they even get going.

"At the end of the day, if you don't have a work ethic, you can have all the natural talent in the world, somewhere down the line you're going to meet somebody as good."

However, there was never any chance of Cassidy losing focus. The Dubliner realises that his talent alone won't be enough to ensure he progresses to the first-team of one of the Premier League's form teams. The hard work has just begun.

"I think last year, my first year, was a honeymoon year. It was just the first time I was in England and everything was falling for me. But I think this year I've progressed, I've played better. It's been more of a test for me because I'm playing 23s football, but the physicality helped me during my FA Youth Cup run. Most of the defenders I played against were half of the size of the defenders I normally play against."

The challenge of being away from home for the first time was made immeasurably more difficult after experiencing the tragic death of his uncle Bryan last year.

"I came home for a couple of weeks. It still is hard, but you have to put in the back of your mind. He wouldn't have wanted me just to come home and just be lazy."

Cassidy returned to England and signed his first professional contract last March. Watford skipper Troy Deeney was there to offer some words of encouragement.

However, as much the Watford captain's advice would have been welcomed, the Irish striker is already patently aware of the reality of the industry he was competing in.

"It only started to hit me after maybe the Christmas in my first year, where I saw people get released and I'm looking at them and saying, 'where are they now?' They're no-where to be seen and they're struggling to get money.

"You need to stay on top of your game every day. Train every day. You're always going to have a bad day, but you need to try your hardest every day because honestly, it can turn like that."

At this stage of his career, Cassidy's talent has been established. The Irish forward is a prolific goalscorer, putting his peers to the sword and scoring against players several years older.

The next step is first-team football and he knows it will be his mental strength, determination and focus that will make the difference, just as it did when he scored at Anfield.

"That's what you need to have because if not, people are just going to outshine you.

"If you're going to keep getting into the positions, as my manager says, 'if you miss a chance and get into positions, we don't care, once you're in those positions. If you miss, you miss, you'll end up scoring eventually'.

"The day you don't get into those positions, that means you're scared, and you'll never show who you really are."