WHEN Swansea City’s No.53 sat on the substitutes’ bench at Sunderland on the last day of the English Premier League season, it was evidence of rapid progress.
Adam King, the 18-year-old former Hearts midfielder, joined Swansea’s under-21 squad in January but is already on the periphery of Garry Monk’s senior side.
King got a place on the bench, while former Falkirk midfielder Jay Fulton (No.56) started in Swansea’s 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light. King credits his rise to prominence to the philosophies of former Riccarton youth coaches Chris Smith and Darren Murray.
In particular, Smith’s belief that intelligence is key to any young footballer progressing is ingrained in his mind.
That theory is now being put to the test as Smith launches his own company, IQ Soccer, with the motto ‘Intelligence is Everything’. IQ Soccer focuses on technique, creativity, speed and personality as derivatives of intelligence. King believes those principles are why he has adapted so well to life amongst the elite in England and Wales.
As he prepared for the European Under-19 Championship Elite Round with Scotland starting this weekend, King spoke to the Evening News about the excitement of the last five months and what brought him to the cusp of an English Premier League debut.
“I’ve been pretty patient since I went down there,” he explained. “I trained with the first team now and again when I first arrived but now I train a lot more with them. Towards the end of the season, Swansea were safe and the manager said young players would train with the first team and get their chance if they were doing well.
“Jay Fulton started against Sunderland and did really well. I was just delighted when I was told I’d be on the bench and I’m excited about the future.
“Since I moved from Hearts to Swansea, this programme put together by Chris has helped me a lot. It’s already in my head to play this way and work this way. Every day at training, I’m basically doing what I did with Chris at Hearts Under-17s and with Darren Murray as well. It’s ideal for me going down to Swansea because the way they play suits me. That’s helped me a lot because what I’m being asked to do is already in my head. I can play exactly the way I want to play.
“I’ve gone down to England at a perfect time and a perfect age. I’m still learning and I’ve got a lot to learn. I can learn from the people at Swansea and it’s important to learn from different people. I’ve now got the manager, Garry Monk, and his coaching staff. You get different ideas from different people into your head. I feel I’ve improved over the last couple of years as a player, but over the last five or six months I think I’ve improved dramatically.
“I’ve learned from Leon Britton and other experienced players. The key factor is having experienced players there to help guide young boys into the team. The boys at Hearts helped me and now, in my position at Swansea, I’ve got Leon and one or two others to help me, plus the manager.
“They always pull you aside at training, put their arm over your shoulder and tell you what they want and where they want you to be. It’s everything I need and it can only go forward from there.”
Smith’s new venture is open to any club wishing to add a different dimension to their coaching. As King explained, it can already claim some notable success given the number of academy graduates now playing first-team football at Hearts.
“I’ve worked with Chris for a while,” continued King. “When I was 15, I moved into the under-17s at Hearts and Chris was the under-17 coach. He’s worked closely with me and the other boys there. A lot of the boys in that age group at that time are now in the first team, like Sam Nicholson, Gary Oliver and my brother, Billy.
“They’ve all worked under Chris and he’s put his philosophy across to them. I think it’s rubbed off well and he’s now trying to put it into his own company, which is a really good idea. Everybody who hears about it should be interested in it. It’s going to give you the best chance to get into the game.
“His company is based on intelligence and that’s what he always tried to drill into us, right from the first time we worked with him. Surrounding intelligence, you have other factors like technical skill and awareness. When you pull it all together, that’s when it really helps you and you start noticing differences in your game.”
The IQ Soccer website, www.iqsoccer.co.uk, should be live by the end of this week.