Former Queens Park and Dundee United defender Barry Douglas has urged any young Scottish footballer looking to
better themselves to get on a plane and sample playing for a European club.
The 27 year old is currently playing his football in Turkey for Super league side Konyaspor, having previously played for Polish outfit Lech Poznan, where he won a league title in 2015.
Douglas says young Scottish players should put their fears to one side and try to broaden their football education.
“It was a good opportunity, I had been in Poland for two and a half years and I had a great two and a half years, we won the league, played in Europe in the cup. I think it was just time to move, try the past is new and this opportunity came up and I’m here and I’m enjoying it.”
Tell us about the team then, it looks as though you guys are placed 8th at the moment with nine games remaining and its a big league, it is 18 teams.
“Yeah, you know it is a very competitive league. Out with the so called “big teams” here, everyone is capable of beating everyone. Especially at this time in the season it’s just who can go on a run and hopefully get in the European places.”
A lot of people raised their eyebrows at you for joining Lech Poznan in the first place, Barry. Do you feel as though it was a good move, have you become a better player and a different type of player to the one you could’ve possibly developed to become in Scotland?
“100%, if i had to go back and make the same decision I’d be going to Poland all day long. It has just opened more doors I’ve seen, so much different aspects to the game as well. Going to Poland and then coming here, its just a step up again. I’m playing against world class players here as well, so it is a challenge for myself. Being out the comfort zone of back home as well. So, I just need to appreciate it and hopefully i can be successful and achieve things.”
Obviously at international level we are hoping that we can somehow keep our hopes alive to qualify for Russia in 2018. There is a lot of talk about players needing to put extra work in, they need to try and work on their physicality and technical ability as well. I that something that is a given in European football that you’ve witnessed? What is the main difference between a players attitude and a players application over there?
“Yeah, maybe work ethic is different in Europe. I think the cultures as well. The British culture is different growing up compared to in Poland. There isn’t as much stardom as there is in the Uk for young players as such, so you don’t really get a chance to get ahead of yourself as you when you’re in Europe. Again, I think it comes from youth teams how they’ve developed into the first team.”
And what about the technical standard? And the level of skill you’re playing against week in week out?
“I think Poland is a little step up from Scotland, Turkey here is a step up again. If you look at some of the players playing here, like i said world class players. You’ve got Quaresma who won the European championship in summer. So, it is a test to yourself and it shows you where you want to be at as well.”
And I’ve got to ask you, you’re 27 years of age. Quite a lot of footballers contemplate trekking across Europe and China, India as well. Do you think you’ll continue your travels or do you hope to come home at some point in the near future?
“No, again you don’t know what opportunities are going to come up. If I were to choose, I’d say i would probably like to keep away from UK and explore and adventures. I’m seeing so much of the world being out this way and learning different cultures as well. I would like to keep doing that and just see what happens in the future you never know.”
You’ll be fluent in Polish and Turkish as well?
“Now, I could probably speak quite fluent in Polish, now I think I understand more. Turkish is hard, the language here is difficult, but again I get by and hopefully I can learn and communicate and order a pizza!”
What do you make of your old side Dundee United? They’re in a battle to try and get from potentially play offs in the Championship to get to the Premiership, it is a tough old time for them at the moment.
“Yeah, it’s different times from when i was there but that’s football and it shows you what happens if you make a few bad decisions. I know the fans aren’t happy, I don’t know whats going on behind the scenes but hopefully they can get promotion and get back where they belong cause they definitely belong in the Premier League.”
What about yourself? Do you stay in touch with some of the old team mates?
“Yeah, I still speak to some of them in the old group chat. I had John Rankin give me some advice this morning about turning a bike in the gym, no rest. I think if you’re wanting to talk about physicality, they definitely need to employ Rankin as their chief gym person.”
It’s funny you saying that, He’s (John Rankin) been talking about the fact so many younger footballers are so obsessed with going to the cinema or Nando’s. They should actually be putting in the extra hours in the gym and the extra hours on the training field. Can you relate to that? Can you see his point?
“Yeah of course, you just need to look at his physique and the career he’s had. He is the perfect role model. Of course, it’s tough for younger people, they’ve never been in that situation so it’s difficult but, if you can learn at a young age I think it will prolong your career and help how far you can go in the game. It’s important to take advice from people like Rankin.”
Just finally, what advice would you give to youngsters who maybe would be contemplating the path that you’ve taken over the last few years?
“Just go for it, football is a short career and you don’t want to live with any regrets. If its meant to be it’ll be but of course you’ll have to work hard and be open minded and put the effort in and you’ll be rewarded. I don’t think it is as scary as people maybe think it is, until being in that situation and having played abroad, its not as difficult as people maybe think.”