Stuart Armstrong has revealed he is a “law unto himself” in the Dundee United dressing-room.
The Scotland Under-21 captain had become bored with too much free time on his hands after training so he decided to take on a university challenge.
Now he combines his football career with studying for a law degree as he already looks at his options for when he finally does decide to hang up his boots.
Armstrong said: “I’m doing it through the Open University. They send out all the materials and you basically do it online at home. I think I’m the only one in the dressing-room to go down this path.
“A couple of years ago, I was finding that I had a lot of free time after training and I was getting quite bored. It had been in my mind for a while and then I just decided to do it. It fits in well after training.
“It’s a manageable amount of studying that keeps me going without affecting my football. It’s over six years and it’s just general law before it gets a bit more refined later in the course.
“I’m in my second year now. It could be useful to me later in life, after football. But the decision was initially made purely because of boredom. I had nothing to do after training.
“Some boys are quite happy with a lot of free time but not me. Sometimes I do wonder why I started it, but overall I’m enjoying it.
“It’s really productive and interesting. You do an essay each month and then there’s an exam in September this year.
“Football and society is changing. I think more footballers might look into it, especially because it’s a good thing to have later in life.”
Armstrong, who turned 22 at the weekend, believes an accolade he won last year is heading back to Tannadice this season.
Like most people connected with the game in this country, he insists that teenage sensation Andy Robertson deserves tremendous credit for all he has achieved since joining United last summer from part-time side Queen’s Park.
Armstrong said: “I won the Scottish Football Writers award for Young Player of the Year last season, but I think Andy is a certainty for it this year. In fact, it would be silly if he wasn’t.
“He’d be thoroughly deserving of many awards at the end of the season just because of his sheer consistency. He’s played so many games and has shown a lot of quality, so he’ll definitely be up there.”
Armstrong also received praise earlier this season from the manager of Saturday’s opponents Celtic.
Neil Lennon complimented the player in the aftermath of the last time the two sides met at Parkhead back in November, with Armstrong netting the goal that ensured United earned a share of the spoils.
However, the midfielder believes that his side should have left Glasgow with all three points that day, and he is hoping they gain the perfect boost before next week’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers by beating the Premiership champions at Tannadice on Saturday.
He added: “It was a nice compliment to hear Neil talk about me after the match. To get praise from any manager is good, but especially when it comes after playing a quality team like Celtic.
“We should have won that game at Parkhead earlier in the season. We had a great chance to increase our lead if we had been more composed, we could have taken all three points.
“Maybe it’s a good time to get Celtic, with the title wrapped up. They could give a few young boys a go who haven’t had regular games. That could work to our advantage.
“But it’ll still be a high-quality side we face.
“It’s probably good to have this game, with the Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers looming.
“It’ll be a test and we’ll need to raise our game to match them. So that will be good preparation for the game at Ibrox.”