In 2012, Dundee United footballer Ryan Gauld made his full league debut at the tender age of 16. He struck his first senior goal against St Johnstone a year later in April 2013. In the 2013-2014 season, he scored eight goals in the Scottish league and cup campaigns and has now signed for the same club that produced Luis Figo, Ricardo Quaresma and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.
He possesses a cultured left foot and the ability to ghost past opponents, which has seen him dubbed the ‘mini Messi.’ It’s fair to say that Ryan Gauld is the most exciting talent to have emerged from Scotland in a long, long time.
Reportedly scouted by top clubs across Europe, the Aberdeen-born starlet has taken the brave but perhaps sensible decision to move to Sporting Lisbon over a potential switch to England. The club, as mentioned earlier, has produced a number of Europe’s top talents with the latest ‘big thing’ William Carvalho being the subject of much transfer speculation.
In terms of a soccer education, Gauld can expect to see an emphasis on the technical part of the game over physicality. Indeed, the style of play appeared to influence Gauld’s decision as he admitted to being a fan of Spanish football. In Portugal, he should find a similar level of focus on technique.
What’s striking to note about Gauld is how short he is. In fact, he’s two inches shorter than Lionel Messi. That he initially made it in a league and football culture that normally values size and athleticism over technical ability is quite a story in itself.
As his reputation was burgeoning in Scotland, opponents began to target the youngster from Laurencekirk.
So what does the 18-year old possess that made him such hot property across Europe? Firstly, his technique, calmness and skill on the ball ensure that he stands out from the crowd. His ability to dribble past opponents in tight spaces makes him an extremely difficult player to mark, and his in-match awareness is quite remarkable for someone of his age. Gauld credits the development of that aspect of his game to his former skills coach Ian Cathro, who’s currently part of the coaching set-up at Rio Ave.
“He was always saying that you need to see not just the pass that you are going to play but when that person receives the ball, think of what they can do with it, so thinking of the second and the third pass,”
Gauld said “a lot of nights of the week we would just work on awareness, just knowing what’s about you. It’s a key part of my game.”