Born in Edinburgh, raised at Reading and now aspiring in Spain. Jordan Holsgrove is hardly your typical Scottish footballer, although he is following a trend of young Scots moving abroad.
A two-year contract at Celta Vigo confirms the 21-year-old as the latest Scotland youth internationalist to transfer to a major European country. In a polite southern-English accent, he talks enthusiastically about long-term aims to play in La Liga whilst acknowledging the groundwork needing done first.
Holsgrove is broadening his horizons after four years in Reading’s youth academy. Father Paul played for the club as well as Hibs, hence the player’s Capital beginnings. Holsgrove Jnr is a technical midfielder with a slight frame and will initially join Celta Vigo’s B team.
Roots of the move can be traced back to last December when he was on loan at Atletico Baleares. An imperious display in a Spanish Segunda B league match against Celta Vigo B saw the Galician club take note.
“We beat them 6-1 at home. We absolutely destroyed them,” said Holsgrove, speaking exclusively to the Evening News from his new base on the Iberian Peninsula. “I remember that game against Celta Vigo. About six weeks ago I had a bit of interest from them and things progressed to the point where they offered me a contract.
“Whether they had watched me before that or after I'm not sure but I definitely had a good game against them that day. I'm sure that helped them make a decision.”
Holsgrove helped Baleares to the top of the league table ahead of the likes of Real Madrid B and Atletico Madrid B before coronavirus struck in March. He then returned to Reading.
“The football here really suits me. A La Liga club offering a deal wasn't something I could turn down. The initial plan is just to settle in, get used to the city and adapt to living here.
“I'm in the B team to begin with but they've already told me they will try to progress me to the first team as soon as possible. That's the aim for me. I want to get in and train with the first team and make an impression.”
He is the only Brit on Celta’s playing staff so the Spanish learned last year will be extremely useful. “From being out here last season, I know a fair bit. I'm ready for the challenge.
“Having the international side of things with Scotland is a bonus for me and hopefully this move can help that. I keep in touch with quite a lot of the Scottish boys I've been in squads with. My brother also lives in Glasgow. He is a physiotherapist.”
Holsgrove doesn’t have any club allegiances in Scotland despite being born here. If he did, they would lie at Easter Road. His father played 19 times for Hibs during season 1998/99 and still follows their fortunes.
“Dad is always having a look at Hibs here and there. If there was ever a Scottish team I would support, it's them with him having been there,” said Holsgrove. “Dad doesn't go overboard and I wouldn't say I was a Hibs fan but if there was ever a team to follow in Scotland, it would be them.”
He hasn’t thought much about following in the old man’s footsteps, for continental football seems to suit him better. A number of other young Scots have drawn the same conclusion. It is becoming a popular fashion.
This summer alone, Holsgrove’s Scotland Under-21 colleague Fraser Hornby joined Reims in France looking to further his career at the age of 21; Bayern Munich took 16-year-old winger Barry Hepburn from Celtic to Germany; Hearts are selling 18-year-old Aaron Hickey to Italian club Bologna.
Then there are those playing outside Britain for longer, such as Ryan Gauld at Farense in Portugal, George Johnston at Dutch club Feyenoord, Bayern’s other Scot Liam Morrison and former Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson with Lecce in Italy.
Holsgrove is the latest inductee to a new cult – one which can only be welcomed by those seeking well-developed young players for the Scottish national team.
“I'm in Spain now and I've had a few training sessions already,” he said. “Our season starts on October 18 so we have a bit of time to get fit and ready for that. Because of the virus, the league has been split into regions. We will only play teams from our region this year.”
Whatever happens in his ultimate quest to play in La Liga, the player won’t forget his upbringing. He is acutely aware that, as a slender 5ft 10ins midfielder, he relies on technique and skill rather than physicality.
“A lot of academies in England will go for players who are physically better, or stronger in other areas apart from technique,” he said. “It happens a lot that they don't go for technical players when they are younger, although it might be changing a bit now.
“When I was younger, I was on trial at Fulham at the same time as Reading. I could tell quite early that they didn't have that confidence in me, but Reading had trust. It's about trusting the process, really, and they developed me really well. That has helped me get here.”
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