Dunfermline midfielder Paul Allan has revealed the part played by Dundee coach Stephen Wright in his development — including teeing up a dream stint with Portuguese giants Benfica.
Allan, 21, emerged through the ranks of the Fife Elite Football Academy (FEFA) during Wright’s tenure as the head coach of the programme.
Wright, now youth development chief at Dens Park, ensured Allan’s versatility, knowledge of the game and physicality improved during his time with FEFA.
That stood him in good stead to become a senior player with Dunfermline, impressing in place of Graham Dorrans despite their recent 1-0 defeat against Queen of the South.
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“I had a few seasons at Fife Elite playing games, really progressing and getting coached to where I am now,” recalled Allan. “Stephen Wright was head of youth and he really helped kick me on.
“He played me in several positions so I could learn the game and I owe him a lot for what he did during my development.
“Stephen had me centre-half for a while. I didn’t mind but, obviously, my stature and height at the time wasn’t ideal for that position!
“But that helped me learn what I would want from defenders when I’m playing in central midfield. It was something that I took on board and the sort of thing he did to improve me.”
During those formative years at FEFA, Allan was afforded the opportunity to train with Benfica for a month in 2017.
He was utilised as a deep-lying midfielder and lapped up the elite-level coaching at a club which has produced the likes of Rui Costa, Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix.
“We went for a month-long training camp,” recalled Allan. “I played a few games and used their facilities.
“Stephen Wright volunteered me and another boy [Jack Smith] into that camp and it was a great experience and learning curve.
“It was another benefit of being at Fife Elite at the time.
“When you look back, I suppose that I have had quite a few good experiences.
“Now it is about trying to use all of those and continue playing at this level.”
Indeed, Allan’s performance against Queens — his 10th senior appearance for Dunfermline — can be considered a silver lining from another disappointing afternoon.
He stood up to the physical challenge and was tidy in possession.
And the youngster is determined to cement his place in the side following loan stints with the likes of Brechin, Albion Rovers and Stenhousemuir.
“In those leagues, games can be scrappy and they can be a battle,” added Allan.
“When you come into the Championship and there is a bit more football — so you are ready to do both sides of the game.
“I feel that those loans have helped me to progress and be ready to fight for three points in games like Queen of the South.”