Fans of Scottish football will already be familiar with the name John Souttar, an 18-year-old footballer who has been making a name for himself in Dundee United’s first-team as well as becoming a key figure in the national team’s youth set-up, mainly at the U17 and U19 levels. Fans of computer games like FIFA and Football Manager might even be well aware of his precocious talents, as he is often discussed on internet blogs by gamers looking for up-and-coming stars of the future to sign for their virtual teams.
In his short career so far he has reportedly attracted the interest of Premier League teams such as Sunderland and Arsenal as well as Scottish giants Celtic, and despite his tender age he has already surpassed 50 appearances for the first team, becoming one of the key performers in the side and offered fresh terms on his contract for the upcoming 2015/16 season.
He began his career at Dundee United at the age of just 9 in 2006 before progressing in the academy to make his debut for the first team on January 24th 2013 aged 16 years and 99 days old. Upon doing so he became the club’s youngest ever player as well as the youngest player in the history of the SPL. Before signing for “The Tangerines” he was playing with Brechin City’s Boys team, where his father Jack- or “Soapy” as he was known- once played as captain.
Footballing ability obviously runs in the family because his younger brother Harry also plays for Dundee United at youth level. He’s only 16 but already stands at a whopping 6 ft 6 inches tall and also plays mainly at centre-back. Just like his older brother, the younger Souttar has become used to playing against older opposition all the way through his youth, from the age of 14 he has been a part of the team’s U20 squad.
Dundee United has earned a reputation for producing young and talented players just recently with the likes of Ryan Gauld- dubbed “Mini Messi” by the Scottish press- transferring to Sporting Lisbon last year, as well as players like Andrew Robertson who moved to the Premier League and then scored against England in a senior international game. Both players grew up alongside Souttar and and earned around 6 million pounds combined for their boyhood club in transfer fees. Other names like David Goodwillie and Johnny Russell have made similar big moves across the border in recent times and it seems like Souttar is destined to play at a higher level like them too.
Having made the decision to develop his game further at Dundee United for the time being, Souttar has enjoyed a lot of first team football in the past two seasons but unfortunately picked up a particularly bad ankle injury during pre-season last year, which then side-lined him for a number of months.
After gradually working his way back to fitness he has shown signs he is evolving as a player, and now tends to operate as a holding midfielder as opposed to the last line of defence. According to the Evening Telegraph: “John Souttar looks like more of a defensive midfielder every time he plays, so it is unlikely he’ll be used in the back-line next season“. Souttar is described by those who watch him play as a quick off-the-mark with clear ability and skill with the ball at his feet. Such attributes might explain why manager Jackie McNamara prefers to play him further up the field, so that he can exert more of an influence on his side’s play along with star striker Nadir Ciftci.