Dundee youngster Fin Robertson has opened up on living the dream playing for his boyhood heroes.
In a wide-ranging interview with Courier Sport, Robertson revealed he was inspired by former Dens Park midfielders Gary Harkins and Jim McAlister growing up.
The Dundonian, 17, also praised boss James McPake for trusting him in the senior ranks.
He said: “The manager was my 18s coach, so I’ve known him for quite a long time now and he’s always trusted me.
“I played with him once when he was trying to work his way back from his injury. I was only 14 but I think it all started there and it’s good he’s shown faith to keep playing me.”
Robertson burst onto the scene aged just 16 in the final game of last season against St Mirren and has gone on to make 20 appearances in Dark Blue this term.
It was an unforgettable afternoon for the teenager as he made his debut in Scotland’s top flight.
“I was a bit nervous when I was running out at the very start,” he admitted of his first-team bow.
“I got told on the Friday I was playing and then on the Saturday going to the game in the car I was a bit nervous.
“Once I got settled and had my first touch I was fine and really enjoyed the game.
“I wanted to stay on but Josh Mulligan got his debut, so I was happy for him to come on as well.
“It’s good to be given the opportunity to play by the gaffer because, obviously, not everyone would do that.
“With me being young and inexperienced, it might have been looked down upon but I’ve enjoyed it and think I’ve done well.
“I didn’t expect to play so much but when I got my first game against St Mirren last season I got a taste for it and wanted more.
“I was working as hard as possible in pre-season and did well when we were in Spain. It’s given me a good opportunity to play and I’ve been able to stay in.”
We meet in the Alex Hamilton Lounge at Dens Park where Robertson – a special talent who could be forgiven for having his head in the clouds – comes across as a normal 17-year-old.
“I’m just going about with my mates like anyone else, learning to drive and having coffee with the other players as well,” he said.
“Driving is probably my main focus besides football just now, I’ve only done five or six lessons so I’ve still got a bit to go and I don’t know if I’ll pass any time soon.
“I’ll need to get the third-party insurance – that will be cheaper.
“My dad’s got a Vauxhall Insignia but I’ll not get insured on that, it’s a two-litre engine.
“I’ll just have to get an old banger as my first car.”
Crucially, he is football daft. Born in 2002, Robertson was just too young to see the likes of Claudio Caniggia and Fabrizio Ravanelli strutting their stuff at Dens Park.
However, he modelled his game on more modern heroes like Harkins and McAlister.
Robertson said: “I’ve always been a Dundee fan. My dad is and my grandad was a Dundee fan as well.
“My mum and dad are here every game. My dad’s got a season ticket up in the main stand and he’s been coming here since he was about 10, so quite a long time.
“It’s a dream to play for Dundee and I’ve achieved that now but, obviously, I want to keep it going for as long as possible.
“For me, it was Gary Harkins and Jim McAlister – I really liked watching Jim because he’s a hard-working midfielder and someone I wanted to be like. Harkins was a magician.”
Robertson seems to have his sights set a little higher though and praised his former coach at St John’s High School for making him think about the game.
“Andres Iniesta and Xavi were just the best in that midfield position,” he added.
“They made everything look so simple even though it’s not really. The way they think about the game is pretty unbelievable.
“The SFA Performance School played a big part in trying to get you to use your brain like them.
“Iain Jenkins was a great coach and he would always want you to take the risk and not play the safe option.
“That’s helping me now because you’ve got to take chances when you’re playing in front of crowds.
“You can’t just be safe and keep the ball, you’ve got to make stuff happen.”
The biggest sign of progress for the youngster is that he no longer feels out of place as a Championship footballer.
Robertson added: “That can sometimes have a bad effect on you, feeling you’re not good enough but it’s all about having the confidence to know you’re in the team because you deserve to be.
“That can help you because your confidence grows and everything just falls into place.
“There’ll be stumbling blocks along the way. You won’t always be in the team.
“It’s happened to me a couple of times where I’ve been out for five or six games at a time.
“You’ve just got to keep your head because, if you lose it, there’s no point.
“You just need to keep focused and working and hope your opportunity will come.”