Paul pulling on lifetime of experiencesMonday, 11th Oct 2021
Be it Brechin or Benfica, Elite feature in the development of Dunfermline Athletic midfielder.
Despite being only 21 years of age, Paul Allan is now one of the longest serving players at Dunfermline Athletic. His appearance against Queen of the South was his second league start for the Pars in a total of ten appearances but he feels that is on the brink of making an impact at first team level since half of those appearances have been this season.
When Paul Allan signed his first two year deal at Dunfermline Athletic in May 2017, (picture above) it was the culmination of progression at Fife Elite and a month’s intensive training with the two time European champions, Benfica.
As Paul secured his first professional contract Stephen Wright, then Head of Fife Elite, admitted that he felt rightly proud that Paul had completed the pathway to senior football and described how he had witnessed Paul Allan’s progress right from the age of 10 when Stephen had been his coach.
At the time, Stephen who is now Head of the Youth Academy at Dundee FC, praised his protégé’s ability to read games while playing at under 20 level:-
"He has played up against so many bigger more physical players but he is able to cope. He is an intelligent player and is a good passer of the ball, he has good awareness, his distribution is good and these are really good attributes to have to take to the next stage.”
His uncle had been his coach at Inverkeithing Boys Club before he joined Dunfermline. Paul went on to be a great success for Fife Elite and for everybody involved there but he does not forget the coach who played such an important part of his journey:-
“Stephen Wright really helped kick me on. He played me in several positions just so I could learn the game and benefit me in my development.
“He had me centre half for a while which I didn’t mind but obviously my stature and height at the time wasn’t ideal for that position. It got me to learn what I would want from defenders when I’m playing centre midfield. It was something that I took on board and just got on with it.”
Paul spent the month of April 2017 training with Benfica in Portugal where they rated him as a number six, somebody who sits in front of the back four and dictates and stops the play. They could see lots of good attributes in Paul, playing in the middle of the park starting the play as well as stopping it but also being creative.
Training in Portugal came about after Paul was selected out of Fife Elite Football Academy for the trip to Lisbon. The Pars Supporters’ Trust were delighted to name Paul as the first recipient of an award from the Margaret Ross Memorial Fund and as well as the £1000 from the Supporters Trust, Paul benefited from even greater support from supporters and friends contributing to a Go Fund Me page.
The Benfica experience, training in an other country and living with the culture in Portugal greatly assisted Paul`s development. He was mingling with first team players and B team players at Benfica, seeing how they eat, how they look after themselves. The fact that he did well there did no harm to his confidence. He recalled:-
“That was part of Fife Elite, we went for a month. It was a training camp, played a few games and used their facilities. It was really good and that was another benefit of being at Fife Elite at the time. Stephen Wright volunteered me and another boy into that camp.”
They experienced double sessions most days and played eight games including one against a Benfica 17s team. The practical sessions were very intense and they also played some college teams which were 19s or National Championship sides who were 19s or 17s.
Above: Paul pictured at Benfica Training Camp, April 2017
There were players from nineteen different countries as far away as South Africa, Brazil and Tunisia as well as the UK. The players from Africa and South America played with a different style and there were things to be picked up from them as well.
The coaches pushed the players hard and Paul learned different movements to get on the ball and lots of different ways to play, especially going forward. He adapted to different formations and it was just a great experience for a seventeen year old. Reflecting this week on his Benfica trip, his loan spells at Stenhousemuir, Brechin City and Albion Rovers Paul summed it up:-
“I suppose that I have had quite a few experiences it is trying to continue playing at this level now. This is where I want to kick on from, getting as many games for Dunfermline is what I want to do this season. Hopefully I can get more in the games to come.”
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