Simon Murray says junior football and former Dundee midfielder John McGlashan laid the foundation for the career he’s had to date.
The 28-year-old striker – looking for a new club after leaving Bidvest Wits – has starred for Arbroath, Dundee United, Hibs and the Dark Blues since moving into the senior game before heading to the South African Premier League.
But he credits spells at Downfield, Tayport and Dundee Violet for turning him “into a man” before late family friend McGlashan, his manager at Violet, got him the chance to join the Red Lichties in League Two.
Speaking to the Evening Telegraph’s Twa Teams, One Street podcast, Murray said: “I felt out of football a little bit, I was in the Dundee and United setups but back then they weren’t run the way it is now.
“I went up to Montrose but the manager who took me to the juniors was John McGlashan, he was a really close family friend.
“He took me and said, ‘Look, Simon, you’re going to be playing with guys who are older, more physical, still a decent level,’ so it was going to be more competitive than playing in the U/18s or 19s.
“I’m glad I did it, it was the best thing I could have done.
“I was playing week in, week out, with older guys who were there to win. It definitely made me stronger and gave me the opportunity to go up to Arbroath.
“When you are playing in the juniors, the guys are mid-20s and getting towards 30s and are there because they want to play and they want to win.
“They have a choice, they do eight-hour shifts and then go to training at night – if they didn’t want to do that, they wouldn’t go.
“So, you are in an atmosphere that is competitive and being around older people makes you more mature.
“It’s not a jolly or whatever. Especially under John, he was very professional after having a pro career and managing at Arbroath.
“It was run similar to Arbroath when I took the step up. Junior football definitely turns you into a man.
“As an 18-year-old boy playing against men so if you hang onto the ball too much, they’ll kick you!”
McGlashan – who sadly passed away in 2018 aged 50 after battling motor neurone disease – had managed Arbroath from 2005 to 2009 after playing more than 130 times for the club following seven years south of the border.
And Murray says the grounding he got from his time playing for McGlashan in the juniors allowed him to flourish at senior level as he netted 16 times in the first half of the season at Gayfield.
That caught the attention of Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara, who snapped up the striker for £50,000 just six months after he signed for the Lichties.
“At Arboath, there was a step up in quality but I went high on confidence,” Murray said.
“I worked really hard in pre-season and coming out the end of that, I was flying and got my opportunity. I was lucky enough to take the chance when I came along.
“I think the training I was doing under John and the training he gave me the chance at Arbroath. He said ‘I’ll get you in at Arbroath and it’s up to you to prove to yourself what you can actually do’.
“I kicked off really well there and got me where I am now.”