Dundee United academy director Andy Goldie hopes Louis Appere is the first of many young Tangerines to earn Scotland U/21 honours under his watch, despite Covid-19 putting his dream on hold.
Appere was called into Scot Gemmill’s squad last week before the coronavirus pandemic led to Scottish football across the board being suspended until further notice.
That move has, for the time being, put paid to the 20-year-old United attacker’s cap hopes with the Euro 2021 qualifiers against Croatia and Greece affected.
However, Goldie insists academy graduate Appere’s call-up is still an achievement both club and player should be celebrating after a breakthrough season that has seen the Fifer score six goals in 33 appearances.
“Louis’ story is inspirational,” Goldie said.
“He went out to the juniors, and a lot of people frowned at it at the time, but it was great work by Brian Grant (United’s head of player pathway and loans) getting him out to Broughty Athletic.
“It developed certain parts of his game and he’s now come back and grabbed his opportunity.
“We purposely pick loan moves that suit what the players’ individual needs are.
“Louis needed to get in the habit of scoring goals and getting better at using his body and his link-up play.
“Fair play to Jamie McCunnie and the guys at Broughty because they, obviously, played a part in his development. He’s come back first-team ready, made a real impact and is now a Scotland U/21 international.
“He’s a fantastic kid and he’s a real role model for young players coming through.”
Goldie hopes more follow Appere’s lead, once football returns to normal, with the club seeing a host of academy talent involved with Scotland at various youth levels.
Chris Mochrie and Lewis Neilson are thought to be next on the production line as they continue to knock on Tannadice boss Robbie Neilson’s door, with other rising stars signing new deals at the club.
Goldie added: “It’s fantastic for the club. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had 10 academy players and graduates involved in the Scotland set-up.
“These boys have earned it and worked really hard to get there. They deserve their opportunity.
“It’s also rewarding for the staff here that the boys are now being seen because it highlights their hard work.
“Chris and Lewis have got a good temperament about them as well, nice manners and are just really grounded kids.
“Hopefully, they continue to go on and hit the heights we know they can.
“Chris is, obviously, the youngest-ever debutant and broke into the first team last year, with both he and Lewis training with the top team.
“Very rarely, if ever, do they play U/18 football because either they’re in the reserves or involved on first-team match days.
“Lewis has not made an appearance yet but that will come.
“Both of them were also due to be sitting their Highers until all exams were cancelled by the government.
“Chris was doing two and Lewis was doing five as well as being full-time footballers, chapping on the manager’s door at 16-years-old.
“Both of them are absolutely fantastic. They are perfect role models for what we want because we want our kids to continue in education and get their qualifications.
“It’s something we promote throughout the club, so to see to kids doing that alongside playing is excellent.
“Finn Malcolm’s just turned 16 and signed a new deal. He will be joining us full-time in the summer.
“Kerr Smith is another who was involved in the Scotland set-up who’ll be joining us full-time.”
Other youth products like Declan Glass and Jamie Robson were regular features for the Tangerines as they raced away to a 14-point lead in the Championship prior to the shutdown.
And Goldie insists he and his academy staff now want to see more youngsters make the step up at a club where he feels there is ample opportunity.
“We’ve had 11 academy graduates involved in the first team on a match day this season. That’s great but we always want better.
“We want Chris Mochrie, Declan Glass, Lewis Neilson, Kieran Freeman, etc to be first-team regulars now.
“We want them to start competing and being No 1 choices in their positions instead of coming off the bench.
“We want them to start games and make an impact. That’s why we push them on the pathway.
“That’s one of the most exciting things about being a young player at Dundee United – if you’re ready, you’ll get pushed.”