Five am starts, a full day’s work and then training at night – Dundee new boy Luke McCowan has had to work extra hard to make it as a footballer.
For almost three years, the 23-year-old combined his day job as a lifeguard in Greenock with playing part-time for Ayr United.
The Honest Men eventually went full-time and McCowan began to make in-roads into the first team.
Now he’s got his big chance in the Premiership with newly-promoted Dundee and, because he knows how tough life is outside the football bubble, he has no intention of letting it slip his grasp.
“When I started with Ayr, they were part-time and I was 18,” McCowan revealed.
“I had to get a job so I worked as a lifeguard from five in the morning till 12 and then trained at night.
“For my first two or three years, that was my shift but it suited me.
“I had football at night and I was going to do everything I could.
“Obviously I needed money for the car journeys because it was a 120-mile round-trip to Ayr.”
Most footballers take job for granted
Baywatch it may not have been in Greenock but McCowan says the experience has taught him plenty.
“When I got into full-time football, I knew what it was like doing part-time and I just thought I’m not going back to that,” he added.
“I just had to push as hard as I can as quickly as I can.
“It was a hard push, though, because I know how hard it is to wake up at 5am, having a normal daytime job and then playing football as well.
“I think most footballers take it for granted how good the job is.
“That’s what drives me on more than anything.”
Asked if he ever saved anyone from drowning, McCowan replied: “No, I think I’ve saved more people on holiday than I did in that job!
“It always happens on holiday – I’ve been to Turkey and maybe somebody isn’t watching their kids and they step right into the deep end.
“In comes the big man!
“You never lose it…”
Time to move on
The attacking midfielder, who can play all across the pitch, says it was time to pack up and leave Ayr.
The Honest Men were keen to keep him at Somerset Park with David Hopkin offering McCowan a new deal for next season.
However, a phone call from manager James McPake convinced the attacker Dundee was the place for him, despite interest from elsewhere.
“Ayr were keen to keep me but I felt it was time to move on,” he added.
⚽️ #TOTW RM
👤 Luke McCowan
🗣️ "The right winger put in an excellent performance and netted two goals as Ayr United saw off Alloa Athletic 4-1 at Somerset Park."
— SPFL (@spfl) February 2, 2021
“I’d been there six years and I was ready for a new adventure. I was getting to the age where I wanted my own place, somewhere that was mine.
“During lockdown, I was just stuck in my room so I just wanted to get out there and see a bit of Dundee.”
He added: “I’m delighted to be at Dundee. It’s a massive club and it’s just so exciting.
“Going up to the Premiership as well – I can’t wait to get started.
“It’s a two-year deal so that gives me time to get as many goals as I can!”