Max Anderson had only just turned 14-years-old when he made the trip to London with his mum to watch Charlie Adam in a Dundee shirt.
As a 19-year-old he now admits he has to pinch himself when he lines up alongside his hero in the starting XI at Dens Park.
Like his fellow Dees, Anderson was delighted to see former Rangers, Blackpool, Liverpool, Stoke and Scotland star Adam sign on the dotted line at Dens Park last summer.
Even then, young Anderson still thought of himself as a Dundee fan rather than a first-team player.
However, 23 senior appearances later, the energetic midfielder has burst onto the scene for the Dark Blues this campaign with some crucial goals and impressive performances.
Julian Speroni testimonial
Speaking after coming on as a substitute to help his team see out a key victory over Raith Rovers alongside Adam, Paul McGowan and Shaun Byrne, Anderson’s memory flicks back to May 2015.
Dundee had been invited to Selhurst Park to provide opposition for club legend Julian Speroni’s Crystal Palace testimonial.
Just over a week previously, young Max Anderson had turned 14 and a birthday treat was to be among the Dees travelling south.
The Argentine would take turns in goal for both sides while the likes of Georgi Nemsadze, Temuri Ketsbaia, James McPake, Gary Irvine, Cammy Kerr, Jim McAlister, Beto Carranza, Greg Stewart and Craig Wighton pulled on dark blue.
It’s increasingly unlikely Anderson will get the chance to share a midfield with Nemsadze.
However, he thought the same of Adam that night when he travelled to London with mum Diane.
Asked to describe his breakthrough season, the 19-year-old said: “It’s been really exciting and I’m really happy to be playing.
“I mean I never thought I’d be playing in a team with Charlie Adam, Shaun Byrne, Jordan McGhee, Paul McGowan – they are all brilliant to play with and help you on their way.
“They are class.
“I have to pinch myself sometimes.
“I went down to the Speroni testimonial and I remember watching Charlie Adam on the pitch and never would I have thought I’d be here playing in the same midfield as him.
“People don’t get to see what he does on the training pitch, he’s brilliant with every one of us.
“He helps all us young lads out. We can ask him anything, he’s so approachable.
“On the pitch he gives you a helping hand but some of the passes you see him spraying around you are thinking ‘oof’ and you have to try to stop yourself just standing and watching it.”
Great kid that wants to learn and will get better with more games he plays 👍 https://t.co/tkWwx4nod3
— Charlie Adam (@Charlie26Adam) April 28, 2021
‘Surreal’ to score first Dundee goal
Anderson has done very little standing and watching this season, however, with all-action displays bringing energy, goals and bite to Dundee’s midfield.
So far he’s found the net four times and is unlikely to have finished scoring this term with play-off matches to come.
Having played just 14 minutes for the club before this season, Anderson is desperate to hear the roar of a Dens Park crowd.
Though, he admits he wouldn’t swap that first goal against Inverness on March 2 for anything.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) April 20, 2021
“It was totally surreal,” he said, after getting on the end of a Paul McMullan cross, seeing his first effort saved by Mark Ridgers and then knocking in the rebound.
“Once I had the first shot I was like ‘oh, no, it’s come to me again, just kick it’ and I couldn’t believe it went in the net!
“I just couldn’t believe it, I went home absolutely buzzing. It would have been brilliant with fans here, I would have loved that.
“I’ve not really had the taste of playing in front of fans yet. This is the first season I’ve really had consistent games so I’m really looking forward to playing in front of them.
“I heard there might be some at the play-off final if we can get there and that would be brilliant.
“It would help us so much with that backing.”
Another for Max Anderson last night.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) March 20, 2021
On his goalscoring exploits this season, Anderson replied: “I just try to get into the box as much as possible – if the ball falls to you, you might as well finish it, eh? That’s all you can do.
“Credit to Paul McMullan and Declan McDaid on the other wing, you can’t fault the service you get.
“I’m just the one standing there to be hit by them!
“I’ve got four so far and I want to get as many as I can. If they come, they come.”
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) April 7, 2021
With just 14 minutes of first-team football to his name and the likes of Adam, McGowan, Byrne, Graham Dorrans and youth team-mate Fin Robertson in front of him, Anderson admits he wasn’t expecting much from this season.
His debut came as a substitute in a shock home defeat to Elgin City in the Challenge Cup in September 2019 but it wasn’t until October 2020 that he earned his first start.
Victory at Brora Rangers with an assist to boot and Anderson began the journey of moulding himself into a first-team regular for James McPake, his coach previously with the U/18s.
“I just wanted to do as much as I could over lockdown, get as fit as possible, keep sharp and give myself the best chance I could,” Anderson added.
“With this manager, it doesn’t matter who you are – if you are doing well in training, he’ll trust you and give you a chance.
“That’s all I was thinking last summer, just battle on and do everything I could.
“The manager really helps us young lads, having been with us at U/18s. We already have that connection with him and it makes things easier.
“It gives you a huge confidence boost knowing that he will trust you in games.”
‘We’ve been playing some great football’
Though he’s very much enjoyed his first season as a Dundee player, Anderson knows the work is far from over.
The Dark Blues head into the final regular Championship match of the season knowing victory could earn them a second place finish.
That would see them into the Premiership play-off semi-final, awaiting the winner of Raith Rovers and Dunfermline should Raith fail to beat Hearts on Friday.
That was after a 2-1 win over the Kirkcaldy side, currently sitting in second, on Saturday at Dens Park.
It’s been good so far for Anderson but he feels even better is yet to come.
“We’ve been playing some great football but Saturday showed we can get the victory and keep things going,” he added.
“It’s all about momentum.
“It’s really exciting to be involved in and we’ll see how it goes.
“With the players we have, I don’t see why we can’t push on.”