There is a massive buzz surrounding Scottish youth football at the minute. It’s a buzz that those North of the border have not heard for a long time. For far too long now the national side and top division have struggled to produce the quality needed to make a dent on the world stage. But with players such as Islam Feruz of Chelsea and West Brom’s Scott Allen looking to make the break through anytime soon and Ryan Gauld already proving his worth with Sporting Lisbon there is a real spring in the step of all involved with Scottish football. But the list of Scottish prospects doesn’t end with those three. In fact one of the country’s brightest prospects can be found strutting about with Spanish giants Real Madrid.
19-year-old Jack Harper was born and bred in Spain to Scottish parents John and Tracy after they emigrated to Fuengirola 20 years ago. He started playing at a young age with his brothers Ryan and Mac who are also carving out promising careers, but it has been Jack that has shown the most promise. While playing for local club, Los Boliches, the youngster was handed trials with Sevilla and Almeria before Real Madrid scouts pounced and offered him a place in their youth set up. Pundits have raved about his technique skill and vision and he was rewarded with a call up to the Scotland Under 15 squad in 2010.
“Jack left home at the age of 13 to be schooled by Real but at that age you never know how it will go in terms of development,” said Jacks father John after his son was recently offered a six year deal with Real Madrid.
'”But now he has the security of a long-term deal.Jack can now chase his dream of playing in the first team for Real as the contract underlines the club’s belief in him.”
It is a belief that has carried over in to Scottish football with Scottish Football Association Performance Director Mark Wotte keeping close tabs on the young prodigy.
“Jack has been playing for Real Madrid's Under 16s and we believe he's performing very well,” said Mark recently.
“I believe it is important we check on those players who qualify for Scotland, wherever they might be.There are possibilities for Jack with our under 17 side coached by Dean Gorré. We cannot ignore the fact we have an available Scottish player at the Real academy.”
The official description of Jack on the Madrid website calls him a ‘technically excellent player,” before calling him, “highly imaginative and capable of surprising opposing defenders. He is intelligent and positions himself well inside the box”
The Tartan Army are certainly excited by Jack and fans are all over the web are already turning him in to something of a saviour after he bagged 25 goals in Madrid's Juvenil B team last season. But they must remember, he was born in Spain and there is always the chance that he could choose his adoptive country over the home land. Just don’t tell his father.
“It will always be Scotland for Jack, I’m old school. I’ve told my boys their dad would love to see a Scotland cap on his mantelpiece one day”
For Scotland’s sake lets hope he listens to his old man.