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Stuart Armstrong a midfield maestro: where it began

Last week Scotland crashed out of the Euros with a 1-0 defeat to Hungary in an agonising end to the campaign.

The major talking point after the match was the referee’s decision not to award Stuart Armstrong a penalty who appeared to be tripped up as he closed in on goal deep into the second half.  

Unfortunately for Scotland and Armstrong, it wasn’t to be, and the Inverness-born midfielder will be left ruing the verdict that could’ve resulted in one of the highest points in his career thus far.

At the age of 13, Armstrong moved to Aberdeen where his family are from and had trials with Aberdeen, but he failed to earn himself a contract. “It dented the confidence,” he said to the i. “It planted that seed of doubt, I thought I might not be as good as I think I am.”

However, the teenager refused to let up and soon signed for Dyce Boys Club.

Speaking to the Press and Journal of his time at the club he said: “I owe a lot to the coaches and volunteers at Dyce Boys Club. I joined the club when I was 13 years old and spent five happy years there.”

After five years at Dyce, Armstrong earned himself a pro-youth contract with his boyhood club Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Just one year later in 2009 though the club got relegated and could not afford to keep their U19 team and he got let down before he got a chance in the first team.

During his time at Caley, Armstrong’s family moved South to Dundee and his coach Danny MacDonald asked Stevie Campbell, former assistant manager at Brechin City, who was Dundee United’s U19s coach to give Armstrong training sessions to prevent him from having to travel as much.

When he was released Armstrong’s father asked Campbell about giving his son a trial, but the coach had already made his mind up and presented him with a two-year youth deal. “When my dad told me I didn’t believe him, so Stevie had to tell me himself,” Armstrong added. “It all sort of clicked from there.”

Armstrong broke into the first team in November 2010 making his debut off the bench in a 1–0 win over Hamilton Academical.

Since then, Armstrong’s gone on to have a fantastic career, winning numerous trophies with Celtic before testing himself in the English Premier League as a mainstay in Southampton’s team.

Under Fifa regulations, solidarity payments are awarded to the clubs who developed the player in their formative years. Due to Armstrong’s lucrative £7m transfer from Celtic to Southampton in 2018, Dyce Boys Club landed a six-figure cash windfall.

Armstrong said to the Press and Journal at the time: “I’m really proud that the move to Southampton has triggered a payment to the club as it was a great place for me to learn and enjoy my football while I was growing up. They will put the money to good use to help ensure that more and more young players in the area can enjoy their football.”

Former Dyce coach Ronnie Cromar added: “Stuart’s path to the top is an amazing story. We are all so proud of what he has achieved so far in his career and we often talk about him as an example to the young players currently at the club.”

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