Adelaide United defender Ryan Strain believes teammate Al-Hassan Toure is “destined for big things” and backs him to continue his impressive start to the season.
The 19-year-old has caught the attention of many – both here and overseas – after scoring six goals in all competitions this season.
Toure’s goal and assist got the Reds going in their FFA Cup final thumping against Melbourne City, with the young forward receiving a standing ovation when substituted in the 72nd minute.
The opportunity was one which Toure took with both hands after injuries to the Adelaide line-up saw them without a striker in the pre-season.
“To be honest [Toure’s] come out of nowhere,” Strain told FNR.
“Last season he didn’t train with us and he started in pre-season and came in as a winger, because that’s where he was at the youth team.
“The coach saw something he liked and we had a few injuries in pre-season which forced him to play up front ever since then he’s scored pretty much every game.
“He’s a great kid and he’s destined for great things.
“He can finish, which is what you need to do as a number 9. Not many young kids can find the back of the net regularly and he’s proven every time he’s through on goal he’s clinical and he can score.
“This year [Gertjan Verbeek] looks like he’s given a lot more opportunities to the youth guys – Toure, Louis D’Arrigo and Yared [Abetew] when I got injured he came up and played really well.
“It’s really promising for Australian football and hopefully more players can get a chance.”
Strain is coming off an impressive season of his own.
The 22-year-old was rewarded with the club’s Rising Star last season after impressing in his break-out season which saw him become a first-team regular.
The Coventry-born fullback follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, Gerry Baker, who enjoyed a long career the UK – most notably with Ipswich Town where he made 135 appearances.
“He would always want me to play football and he lived in Conventry as well, to be fair ever since I was a young kid I lived and breathed football,” he said.
“When I was younger Coventry used to play at Highfield road, back when they were actually good.
“They lost a lot of money when they went to the Ricoh [Arena] which was a bad investment for the club, when we played at Highfield we were a good team.