Scottish winer aiming to make an impact at Riverside

13 August 2010 12:13
FIRST there was Stewart Downing, then there was Adam Johnson.

Now Andy Halliday is looking to become the latest teenage left-winger to make a sensational impact at the Riverside Stadium.

It would not be fair to compare the young Scot to two of the finest wingers to have emerged from the North-East in recent years, nor does he want such comparisons to be drawn.

He has, though, undoubtedly arrived on Teesside with a growing reputation.

Halliday does not turn 19 until October and he has spent the first two years of his career making a name for himself in the second and fourth tiers of Scottish football. Expecting too much, too soon, could be damaging to a talent worth monitoring.

He was Gordon Strachan's first signing of the summer costing just £100,000 of the near £6m spent at the Riverside Stadium since the end of last season but he has arrived with a big reputation.

Middlesbrough's Academy coach Mark Proctor, who brought the teenager through the ranks at Livingston, provided a glowing recommendation for Strachan. Now the winger is eager to make an impact south of the border.

The fans will probably look at this signing and they will not have jumped off their seat, I'm just 18, he said. I am young and I can improve. I have done quite well in my last couple of seasons, I started when I was 16. Hopefully that can continue. There's 46 games in a season so hopefully I will get my chance.

Proctor was brilliant with me. He gave me my debut when I was still a schoolboy. But this place is different class, second to none, I have arrived from the lower leagues in Scottish football and this was a shock to me.

I came here for a week in January and I didn't want to leave, it was a bit like my house. It's a big jump up to the Championship for me, but you have to improve with these facilities.

Following the acquisition of Estonian winger Tarmo Kink and ongoing interest in Dundee United's Craig Conway and Hearts' Andrew Driver, Halliday knows he will have to be at his best to start. But having only known the hard way of earning his chance, it is a challenge he is relishing.

When he was still at school in Glasgow, he was handed his debut by Proctor at the end of five days in the classroom in a 5-2 defeat to St Johnstone in April 2008.

That paved the way for last season's heroics, scoring 14 times in the Lothian outfit's charge to the Division Three title.

Despite interest from Rangers and Italians Parma, it was Middlesbrough who put the money on the table and brokered a deal before anyone else even if that brought an element of frustration within his family.

I come from a family of Rangers men, so I don't know whether I can tell you what they said when they knew I was teaming up with Gordon Strachan, said Halliday. My dad is a typical dad, he will tell me if I'm doing something wrong and bring me down if I'm getting carried away.

He sees this as a massive opportunity for me and a place to enjoy and improve my football. It's a bit surreal sitting or training with the manager.

I loved listening to his interviews before I had met him. I was born and bred in Glasgow, brought up in the Old Firm fishbowl and Old Firm managers are in the papers, on the telly, every day up there. So meeting him in person was a bit surreal. I was hoping for a few jokes, but I'm sure there's plenty of time for those.

Halliday has been suffering with a groin problem throughout preseason and missed last weekend's Championship opener with Ipswich. He will be around for a few years to come and hopes this year will be the start of his Boro success story.

I am not going to sit here and say I'm going to be the next Stewart Downing or the next Adam Johnson,

said Halliday. Those are two Premier class players. I thought Adam would have gone to the World Cup. He had a great season. I just want to do my own things and keep improving, kick on.

I'm a typical winger, a typical Scottish winger. I will give 100 per cent every game, maybe if I am not at my best I will still give 100 per cent. That's all I can say.

I have a lot of things to improve on, but so do the seniors, all footballers should look to improve.

Source: Northern_Echo

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