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RedMatchday Feature | Living the dream

July 28, 2014 3:00 pm Author: Aberdeen FC
RedMatchday Feature | Living the dream

Two boys, both products of the AFC Youth Academy, both from a small north east village and, what’s more, they live next door to each other. They both landed up playing on the field at the same time in a European game for the team they support. It’s what dreams are made of.

Cammy Smith has been in and around the first team for a little while now, but for Scott Wright getting on the pitch against FK Daugava Riga at Pittodrie a fortnight ago put the cap on an epic summer for the youngster where he represented Scotland Under 17s in the UEFA European Championships too. And if there were any nerves, they didn't show – though it probably helped that his next door neighbour Cammy was already on the pitch.

Scott “Since I was born, Cammy has always been my neighbour in Balmedie. I would say we are good pals. Our two families are really close as well which is nice.

“When I signed my professional contract last season we had never actually played together as he is two years older, so we never played for the same school team even although we both went to Balmedie Primary School and then Bridge of Don Academy. We never even played for the same team in the Youth Academy at Aberdeen!

“Cammy gives me a lot of advice. He was really helpful when I came into the club full time last season. He told me what I needed to bring, what I needed to do. Then the two of us played together for the U20s. After the game we would speak about it, analyse the game and he would pass on advice. He has been really good to me. I can't thank him enough.”

Cammy picks up the story. “The two of us have known each other most of our lives, and certainly since Primary School. There is basically two years on the dot between us. His sister is the same age as me so she was always in my primary school class.

“Scott joined Aberdeen when he was at 10 or 11. I kept a close eye of his career and it was great to hear how well he was doing from the coaches in the Youth Academy. At U15 level, he really started to impress and managed to keep that going at U17 level and was rewarded with a professional contract last year. Since he came in full time, we have got close.

“The first time we actually played together was last year for the U20s. I remember thinking he would not play much as we had a very strong U20 side but he came in and did very well in his first year and forced his way into the team and he has just kicked on.

Cammy”In many ways his career has panned out like mine. He forced his way into the U20s side during his first season and then, at a very young age, he forced his way into the senior squad. We both made our first team debuts at a similar stage. Like me, he probably achieved a lot in a very short space of time, a lot more that he would have expected to at his age”.

For Scott, it has been one upward curve thus far, including those Under 17s European Championships in Malta where he scored the winner in the game with Germany.

“The European Championships were a fantastic experience. Obviously the standard of the teams we were playing against was a great learning curve for me but there were others factors which helped with my footballing education. You also have the media side and having to do interviews and also the fact the games were live on TV. They were all things I wasn't used to so it was great experience. It's not just playing football, all those other things are important to learn from as well.

“Then there was the experience of scoring the winner against Germany. That was incredible. I would be lying if I said it was a great goal though, but it doesn't matter, it went in! I actually should have scored one in the first half as well so I was quite relieved when I did score.”

It's been a summer of little time off at Pittodrie but with his Scotland experience too, there was even less time for a rest for Scott.

“I got about two and a half week's holiday. I then got a call from the manager and was told I was flying to Dublin to meet up with the first team for their preseason training camp. Training over there went well.

“My aims were then to just come back and have a good preseason with the 20s, then go away to Portugal with my team mates for the U20s training camp and look to have a good season with Paul Sheerin's side and see what happens after that. Everything changed and instead of being on a plane to Portugal, I was flying to Latvia instead.

Scott “I still feel quite nervous being around the first team players I must admit, but the more I train and hopefully play, the more I will feel confident in that environment”.

Elevation to the first team squad will help Scott in other ways too, as he quickly admits.

“I do try and blag a lift off Cammy in the morning but with him being in the first team, he does not have to be in until quarter to ten. Me being in the youth team, I have to be in for nine! Whenever he can though he gives me a lift into work and I do appreciate it. Hopefully when I break into the first team squad on a regular basis, I will make him my taxi driver!”

“As Scott says I am his taxi driver,” admits Cammy ruefully. “It does give me an opportunity to have some time with him so we can talk and I can maybe pass on some advice from the experiences I have had. As our careers have mirrored each other so hopefully that advice will be of some use. It feels strange at my age passing down advice!

“I am still only 18 but it does feel like I have been around for ages. Scott is only just away to turn 17 so he will have to experience the same things because he came into the first team so early. Both of us have the temperament to handle any pressure that comes our way. We both have very supportive families who keep our feet on the ground and have a good support network round about us, so we can deal with any challenges that are thrown at us”.

“Cammy seems really mature for an 18 year old, on the pitch and off it”, adds Scott. “When he first broke into the first team I was so happy for him. He was someone for me look up to. It also inspired me to win a professional contract and to push for a place in the first team. It made me think “if Cammy can do it then so can I”. I wanted to go out and replicate what he had done, breaking into the first team, doing well for the national team at youth level.

“We both play in similar positions. It would be great to think in the future the two of us could be playing up front together. Now that would be special!”

The first step towards realising that dream came a fortnight ago when the two of them were on the Pittodrie pitch for the last quarter of an hour against FK Daugava, Scott making his debut.

Cammy Smith “That was sensational. It is really difficult to put into words. As the game wore on, I thought the manager might made a few changes but with them being quite a physical team and with a few challenges flying about, I did not think I would get the call.

“But then I got the shout and I very quickly had to get myself ready for it. It was a good time for me to go on because they started to get a bit tired and some of the defenders were looking a bit heavy legged – that certainly what helped me!

“Before I went on the manager just told me that I was on the bench for a reason and told me to relax and go out and do what I do and then wished me all the best. Tony Docherty reiterated that the first involvement I have should be positive and that is what I tried to do.

“Surprisingly I was not that nervous. That was probably because I did not have too long to think about it! Although saying that, when I got my strip on I had to wait two or three minutes for the ball to go out of play – that was quite a long wait! That was the only point I started to think about what was about to happen and I started to look around the crowd, but before I knew it I was on the field and once I got on, I was able to relax and just concentrate on my game.

“The fans were fantastic and really helped me. It was great the way they got behind me. I did a little bit of skill early on and got a big cheer. That gave me a lot of confidence. It allowed me to focus on what I was doing and not worry anything else.

“The only other time I had ever experienced a European game at Pittodrie was the Dnipro game back in 2008, the first leg which ended 0-0. I was only 10 at the time! Sitting watching that game that night I did not think six years later I would be out there on the field playing in a European game for the Dons!”

“It was really nice going into the players lounge at Pittodrie after the game against Daugava Riga and seeing how happy his family were afterwards”, says Cammy. “It was weird because it was my European debut as well, but Scott got all the attention because he made his debut, and rightly so! There is not a better feeling than making your first team debut. It is like a dream come true.

“Making my European debut was a special moment as well though. I have watched a lot of Aberdeen games in Europe over the years. I was at the famous Copenhagen game, which I remember really well. I was at the Dnipro game. I was at the Bayern Munich 2-2 game as well as the draw with Mascow. My dad went over to the Atletico Madrid game but I was not allowed to go because I was too young and had school the next day! From just going to those games, I understand how historic every European adventure is and hopefully we can make a bit of history with our run this year.

While everything is new for Scott this term, for Cammy this represents a season where he wants to make a real step up at the club.

Scott and Cammy “I have now been involved with the first team for two seasons. Last season, I got a good number of starts, made a number of appearances off the bench, and played in some really big games. I have all that experience behind me and I am now looking to kick on this season. Playing in front of big crowds at such a young age can only help me in the future. Being involved in the international setup really improves me as well. I have learned a lot from those games.

“I feel as if I have come back this season a lot more switched on and have a better understanding of what is required. I feel this season I can go out and show what I can really do. I have shown it in glimpses, but now I have to find that consistency, something that is maybe difficult to do at a young age.

“But I am really enjoying my football. Pittodrie at the moment is a great place to go into in the morning. It is great waking up every morning knowing you are going to training with a great group of lads. The manager and staff are really good with us as well. The place is buzzing at the moment and long may it continue”.

Scott Wright is buzzing too, but does his old neighbour have any more words of advice for him?

“Enjoy it. Enjoy it, because it is a blur. Enjoy it as much as you can. Work hard and take in and learn as much as you can from the senior players. Really express yourself, everyday in training and in games, show what you can do.

“He is living the dream at a young age so keep it going. We are both living that dream. Hopefully both of us can go on and do really well for Aberdeen”.

And that would be a dream for all of us…