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Opinion

Searching for the next A-League superstar

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Roar Rookie
19th April, 2021
62

Beep, beep, beep, beep. I sheepishly wake up to my alarm going off at 5:30am Monday morning.

I get up out of bed, make my double black coffee and start getting ready for work. While rushing out of the house, I have a mini heart attack as If I’ve forgotten something.

Watch, wallet, sun glasses, Airpods, two mobile phones, and a laptop with multiple batteries – I think I’ve got everything. Time to get to the office like everyone else and prepare my presentation.

Hi, my name is Andy and I’m a football scout.

I have been a scout for 19 years, working my way around the world with summers in Australia and winters in Serbia, Russia and Romania trying to find the next superstar. I currently scout players across multiple groups (between the ages of ten to 18) in South Australia.

Scouts can be freelance, work for a club or through an agency that will offer their scouting services to multiple clubs. There are different types of scouts; some will be searching for talent, others will be doing their homework on opposition clubs.

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My work mobile phones contact list includes high school, amateur league, NPL and youth team managers, parents and fellow scouts. I also use social media to help with the search for new talent.

In a standard week, I can watch over 40 hours of football (from training to matches) in Adelaide and also be expected to provide detailed written and video analysis of a player’s skillset and my opinion on their strengths and weaknesses. All this information can be pre-defined by what a club is searching for, as well.

Each club has different traits they are looking for, depending on the area and type of player that position attracts.

Hunger for the ball, control and enthusiasm are the non-negotiables, but it’s the thinking outside the box in the final third in terms of awareness and imagination that can result in a player being recommended or looked over.

Football generic

(Tony Feder/Getty Images)

It can be very draining work; as there are players you scout over the course of several years only to have a club advise they are no longer interested.

Even your own intuition can let you down – I have advised clubs to pass on players because they were too small, argued with the ref too much or weren’t vocal enough in a match.

Some of these players have gone on to play in the A-League and for the Socceroos.

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For all the many dead ends, there has been success stories. Two players I recommended went on to play in Scandinavia, a third played in Holland and all three have played for the national team.

Multiple players I have scouted have made their way to the A-League. It’s the little wins that make the job worth it and also the hunger for KFC…

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I was watching a high school match in Adelaide over 15 years ago and had to leave the match early, but there was a particular player of interest who I felt could be an A-League-level player for Adelaide United in the coming years.

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He was playing as a defender but he had all the skills to play as a winger or a forward.

Because I left early, I wasn’t able to speak to the player or his parents, but by chance, later that evening I had gone to KFC to get a zinger burger.

Who served me at the drive-thru window? The kid from the match!

We then had an awkward conversation as I tried to explain I was a scout – he in turn thought I was some weird guy who had his laptop open and stroked his beard for most of the match looking in his direction.

This cheeky, pimple-faced teenager went on to play for Adelaide United, have a career in Europe and also play for the national team.

A lot of scouting can have elements of luck in it; sometimes it can just be a grumbling stomach in need of a zinger burger that leads to signing the next bright prospect.