It is fair to say Al Hassan Toure has been the revelation at Adelaide United this pre-season.
Even Head Coach, Gertjan Verbeek, admitted his surprise about just how impactful he has been with the senior side in such a short period of time.
However, as the saying goes, ‘timing is everything’ – not least in football – and that perhaps aptly describes Toure’s incredible emergence from the Club’s Youth Team.
Toure found form at the perfect time in the local National Premier League (NPL) with the Young Reds, impressing the Dutch boss upon his arrival as he scored in four straight matches, while also training with the first team.
And with strikers Kristian Opseth and George Blackwood both unavailable for the FFA Cup Round of 32 against Melbourne Knights, Toure was handed his professional debut – entrusted to lead the line.
“It was a bit nerve wracking to be honest,” Toure said when he discovered he would be starting against the Knights.
“I had a chat with my family and I told them that I would be playing and they were all excited, calling uncles and aunties from back home and speaking to the grandma – everyone was a bit excited.”
But while he was nervous at first his unflappable nature held him in good stead come kick-off time.
He would score on debut with an instinctive finish before signing a scholarship contract a day prior to netting a brace against Olympic FC in the last 16.
The 19-year-old said the nerves settled down pre-match as he walked on the pitch before the match at Knights Stadium.
“It was very exciting,” he said.
“Walking on the pitch with the players that I’ve been looking up to for years and just joining them, playing the game.
“They all came around and helped me with my confidence and I was able to play and score.”
Putting pen to paper with the Reds was also a dream fulfilled for the man who spent his formative years at Croydon Kings before moving to United Youth.
“It feels really good,” he explained.
“I’ve been working hard throughout the years to get this. It’s been my dream to play for United since I was a little kid and it’s a dream come true.”
Toure’s seamless transition into the first team setup is a testament of his desire and the fact his dynamism suits Verbeek’s attacking philosophy.
His three FFA Cup goals highlight the striker’s excellent positioning inside the area, particularly his opener against Olympic after expertly checking his run to beat the offside trap.
“He’s a really good coach, he likes attacking players,” he said.
“He has a good style of play and everyone just has to adapt to it and hopefully we can win more games.”
Despite a scintillating start to life in the first team, Toure is taking nothing for granted and is simply aiming to get more playing time this season while learning from his teammates.
“Hopefully I get more minutes playing with the team and hopefully I can score more goals throughout the year and just show that I’m good enough to play,” he said.
“There’s a lot of great players that I look up to in the Club and hopefully they can share experiences and I can learn a lot from them.
“And I think that would make me a better player in the future.”