Braidhurst High pupil Samuel Biggart is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Dundee United star Andrew Robertson as he eyes a step up to the Queen’s Park first team.
Biggart (17) has just returned from a two-week training camp in Valencia run through the Da Vinci Initiative which aims to offer young footballers a gateway to a career in the game.
The left-back said: “I was playing with Motherwell for four or five months in 2012, but the chance just never came there, so in November of that year I decided to stop playing football and concentrate on school work.
“I was sitting five Highers, which is a lot of work, but I know it’s important to get an education behind me. Then the head of youth development at Queen’s Park, David McCallum, phoned my dad and asked me to go there.
“At the time he explained my situation, but once my studies were done I went on trial at Hampden and signed.”
Former Motherwell player McCallum, himself an ex-Braidhurst High pupil, is hopeful that Biggart can come through the ranks and earn a move to a bigger club.
He said: “Gordon Young, the former head of youth development at Motherwell, gave us the heads up on Sam.
“At Queen’s Park we have been fortunate to have a good conveyor belt of left-sided players who come through the club in recent times like Andrew Robertson and Barry Douglas who moved on to Dundee United and Lech Poznan respectively.
“We had a gap in Sam’s position and when someone comes in and shows they are good enough to fill it you sign them and take them forward to the next season at least.
“Being amateur we won’t offer a job in football. Even if he gets to our first team he’ll only get expenses, but it’s up to him now to show our new manager Gus MacPherson that he’s the man to step up for the next couple of seasons.”
“The way our club is if you are good enough at an early age you will play, you look recently at Lawrence Shankland who went straight from under-17s to the first team, jumping straight over the under-19s and reserves.”
While Shankland is now enjoying life as a full-time footballer at Aberdeen, Biggart enjoyed his brief taste of it during the Da Vinci Initiative.
He said: “I thought it was a great opportunity, especially when I had taken so long out, in football terms, it was excellent to be able to practically be a full-time footballer for two weeks.
“I learned a lot about the game, about my own position, and it was good to be able to step back and see what life would be like as a full-time footballer.”
McCallum says young players need to realise playing football is more than just kicking a ball.
He said: “The programme isn’t just about football - it’s also about education, culture and learning to live away from home.”
An alumni of the Da Vinci Initiative, Robertson only left Hampden for Tannadice in the summer and is now rumoured to be attracting interest from the English Premier League.
Biggart says the meteoric rise of this fellow left-back can do nothing but inspire.
He said: “I didn’t know Andrew, but most of the boys I am playing with played with him, and it gives you the motivation to push yourself to go as far as you are willing to take yourself.
“We were going through a bad spell a couple of weeks ago and our coach Robert Kelly used the example of Andrew to try to inspire us by saying that 18 months ago he was in the same changing room, in the same position of needing a win.
“He has driven himself to be the best he can be and now he’s classed as one of the best young players in Scotland.”
McCallum says while everyone at the club could claim some credit for Robertson’s success, ultimately it was down to the player himself.
He said: ”Andy joined us at 15, having been released by Celtic, and his challenge was not to think he had been released from the biggest club in the country so he could just slip back.
“He maybe relaxed a bit and was able to enjoy his football more, but he still had that hunger to succeed.
“Andy still comes in to speak to us and is still very much part of the club, like Barry and so many others, who all remember where they got that little boost to get where they are.”
Robertson has been quick to praise the coaching he received at Queen’s Park and had particular thanks for McCallum.
“He said: “The entire youth set-up at Queen’s Park has played a huge part in helping me get to the stage where I am now.
“It was great to have coaches like David McCallum working with us every day, teaching us new things and helping us learn more about the game.”
As well as continuing with his football Biggart is also hoping to go to university to study civil engineering after the summer.