Years of relentless hard work, commitment and sacrifice were finally rewarded when Tony Popovic (coach of the Western Sydney Wanderers FC) told the Wollongong-born forward he was to be a part of the AFC Champions League-winning managers’ plans for the 2016/17 Hyundai A-League season.
It’s a moment that countless young footballers and indeed aspiring athletes dedicate their entire lives working towards, but one that will never arrive for most. The baby-faced marksman is still coming to terms with his journey from Balgownie Rangers junior to first-team Western Sydney Wanderer.
“I didn’t look too far into the future when I first joined”, Scott admits.
“I just wanted to come in, play my normal game, try as hard as I could at training and keep improving.”
Popovic broke the news to Scott at Wanderers headquarters in mid-May.
“I was at training and a few of the boys were there because everyone was having a meeting with Popa. He told me the news: it was the biggest moment of my life.
“I came out unbelievably happy and all of the boys congratulated me. Then I got in my car and rang my dad.”
It’s often said you have the world at your feet as a young footballer but the reality is one of uncertainty, setbacks and baby-steps. Taking chances when they come is one of football’s golden and most universal decrees, and Scott has taken his with impressive aplomb.
Finishing as the club’s equal top goal scorer in the 2015/16 Foxtel National Youth League season, Scott was awarded Wanderers Youth Player of the Year, scored 15 goals in 13 PS4 National Premier League appearances, and raised eyebrows when he trained with the first-team at the back end of last Hyundai A-League campaign.
Talk about making a good first impression – for good measure, he’s even been compared to Tottenham Hotspur figurehead Harry Kane.
Scott thinks the innocuous contrasts are “pretty funny” but recognises that they represent a significant new chapter in his career. The striker’s name is now firmly under the microscope of the mainstream and every moment he spends on the pitch next season will be subject to the expectations of the masses.
“I guess he’s a good player for me to emulate”, Scott laughs.
“He scores goals, he’s hard working and he does play a similar game to me.”
If he’s not riding it already, Scott will quickly find himself on the crest of the tidal wave of hype that typically accompanies the rise of a promising young talent.
And the excitement to catch a glimpse of the newest kid on the Red & Black block will likely be amplified when the new season resumes. Alongside mercurial playmaker and former terrace regular Mario Shabow, Scott arrives into the Wanderers first grade picture as the very first product from the recently established Wanderers academy.
That in itself is likely to be a particularly unwelcome monkey on the back of Scott but he says he’s relishing the pressure.
“I like the pressure, I’ve always been good with it,” said Scott.
“There’s always going to be pressure in football, you’ve got to accept it and take that pressure on and use it to perform to your best.”
It should come as no surprise that Scott attracted the eye of the Wanderers hierarchy with this kind of elite temperament. The more he speaks about his desire to get on the field, the more it seems he has the rigorous hunger required for top flight football and the hallowed winning mentality required for Popovic’s team.
Even before his eventual signing, there were inklings of Scott’s quality and he sent a ripple of excitement through the Wanderers fanbase when he was pictured training with the first team at the back end of last season. It was a fantastic learning experience for the player.
“I was nervous at the start but that went the more I trained and worked with the first team, they’re all great people and they’ve already made me a better player.
“Popa gave me tips, little ‘in the moment’ things that I need to do – stuff like moving my feet, my body positioning, the way I approach the ball.
“It’s these little things that will make it easier to keep the ball in the Hyundai A-League.”
But although he’s broken into the professional arena, Scott says it wouldn’t have been possible without his youth league teammates who have been with him every step of the way.
“Developing combinations with Mario Shabow and Tariq Maia especially have been key,” he says.
“Tariq plays a similar game to Mario, he likes to feed off me with one-twos and we’re always looking for each other.
“There are a couple of boys like Cameron Devlin who I work well with, that’s definitely helped my game.”
Scott is enjoying a long-overdue rest having essentially played non-stop for the last 12 months. In what is a bittersweet outcome for both club and player, he won’t feature again in the charge towards NPL promotion. All that remains now is to begin the nervous, exciting wait for pre-season.
“The nerves are always going to be there but with all the training I’ve been doing and all the training I will do in pre-season it’ll be exciting and I’m sure when I get the chance I’ll be ready.”
Although Popovic hasn’t revealed his plans to Scott yet, the striker is focussed on working hard remaining patient. He knows next campaign will likely be a waiting game but he’s determined to take another chance and prolong his time in Western Sydney a little longer.
“I want to be on the field and if I do get on, score some goals because that’s my job.
“Hopefully I can earn another stay – but that will only come with playing minutes, working hard and proving myself at Hyundai A-League level.”