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Scottish Premiership 22/23 season start

Stand Free!

Derek Young article


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When France won the World Cup in 1998, they had an unsung hero of the campaign. Bernard Diomede, the Auxerre winger, had been a late addition to Aime Jacquet's squad for the finals and made only fleeting appearances during the tournament. Despite his relatively short time on the pitch, Diomede won praise from coaches and team mates alike for his professional attitude and demeanour throughout. He was seen as "un compagnon de chambre parfait", or "the perfect room-mate".


Five years later, when the French Rugby team were given a cockerel as a mascot for the Rugby World Cup, they paid Diomede a backhanded compliment by naming their new pet after the winger. It was a reminder for everyone that even though a player doesn't get time on the pitch, they can have a positive effect on the team, especially if they keep their attitude right for the times they are called upon.


Derek Young started the season as the player most likely to be moved on. The August transfer window saw him linked with a move to St Mirren and, according to Young himself, the new manager had told him he was unlikely to figure in his plans. To some extent, he was a victim of his enthusiasm for football, selflessly taking on an unfamiliar right back role for the debacle against Sigma.


Despite these setbacks, Young has shown remarkable dedication to the cause. He has been part of every matchday squad this season and has waited patiently for his chance. The first step in his rehabilitation was an assured display in the centre of midfield against Rangers at the end of November, where he was combative, calm and collected, especially after the sending off of Mark Kerr. Since then, Young has put in a number of quietly effective performances, culminating in his best of the season against Kilmarnock on Saturday.


It is not without irony that Young saved his most impressive display for a game against Jimmy Calderwood's Kilmarnock. It was the new Killie manager who raised a few eyebrows by bringing Young back to Aberdeen from Partick, following his somewhat acrimonious departure to Dunfermline with his elder brother four years previously.


While most fans will agree that Derek Young isn't our most skilful player, there are few in the squad with the same propensity for hard work. His performance was capped with a sublime volley for the winning goal - the sort that a more cynical commentator than myself might suggest would be a Goal of the Season contender were it scored by Kris Boyd or whoever Celtic have up front this week.


Young will likely find that when we have a full squad his role is reduced to playing bit parts again. However, at a time when most SPL squads are so thin that Dundee United's matchday squad is barely bigger than their travelling support, it's vital to have players willing to step in and fight for the cause at short notice. All hail the unsung hero.

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