DAILY RECORD 🔵 Ryan Stevenson hopes Lamine Yamal story can inspire more Scots kids – Shango Media

DAILY RECORD 🔵 Ryan Stevenson hopes Lamine Yamal story can inspire more Scots kids

DAILY RECORD 🔵 Ryan Stevenson hopes Lamine Yamal story can inspire more Scots kids

Watching a 16-year-old kid who is still doing his school work give France their jotters at Euro 2024 should be a lesson to us all.

Lamine Yamal has been absolutely sensational in Germany and his goal that sent Le Bleus packing on Tuesday night had me picking my jaw off the floor. He’s another example of the old cliche that if you’re good enough then you’re old enough. And boy is the Barcelona wonderkid good. Frighteningly good.

Okay talents like Yamal don’t come around often and especially in Scotland but I’d love to see more managers back here take a punt on youngsters on a regular basis. We don’t see enough of it. It gets fans excited. And gives other young hopefuls proof that dreams really can come true if you work hard enough. Yamal is on a different level right enough. I reckon it would be tough for a 16-year-old to play against grown men at any level. But to do what he’s doing in Germany against the creme de la creme? It’s absolutely incredible.

Scottish Premiership lagging in 11th – even behind the English Premier League – across Europe’s top leagues for minutes played by players aged 21 or under last season.

But look what happened when Hearts launched Aaron Hickey onto the big stage when he was just 16.

Fair play to Craig Levein for recognising the potential in a player who wasted no time in winning a move to Serie A then to the Premier League with Brentford and has become a key man for Scotland too as we unfortunately found out through his absence at the Euros.

Of course you can’t just throw a kid who could still be kicking a ball around a playground into a professional arena and expect him to flourish without the right kind of support.

The circumstances and their personalities have to be right. In my time at Tynecastle we had Jamie Walker, Sam Nicholson and Jordan McGhee who debuted as teenagers – Jordan at just 16.

They’re not playing at a major international tournament but they’ve gone on to have good careers. I was captain when Jordan was in his first season as a first team player. He gave away a goal in an Edinburgh derby and was absolutely distraught afterwards. Some of the boys had emptied him for his mistake which is normal in the high pressure environment of derby day.

But I saw how he was afterwards. I phoned his mum and dad when I got home to make sure if he needed anything at all he could come and speak to me.

It’s important to have players round about young talents who will look after them and help them develop. It’s a package that help bring young boys through.

You can’t take risks with youngsters. That’s why it’s so important managers watch the development of their best young players so closely.

At Hearts there are a few more teens who are on the fringes of breaking through and they have the perfect mentor in Steven Naismith.

Macaulay Tait is only 18 but he catches my eye every time he plays. He’s quite small and skinny but he has so much about him. He goes into tackles, is brave on the ball and always trying to make something happen.

Naisy has worked with these young guys in the B team and the fact he was just 18 when he made his Kilmarnock debut means he knows what they’re facing.

He might not be at the level of Yamal. Who is at that age? But hopefully another year of top team football after a right good pre-season will stand Macaulay in good stead to become a massive asset for Hearts.

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