Prodigious teen soccer talent, DB’s own Andreas Thorsen chats with Sam Agars about making it to the Scottish Championship league.
It’s not unusual for a teenager to dream about one day gracing a famous sporting ground at the highest level. The thing that sets Andreas Thorsen apart is that he is living that dream, having recently signed a contract with Scottish Championship club Raith Rovers.
Andreas is no ordinary kid – he is blessed with a little more sporting prowess than most – but like most successful sportspeople, he is not in
his position by chance. Years of hard work and sacrifice are starting to pay dividends for the 18-year-old DBer, and he is determined to see just how far he can go in the game that he loves.
Making his mark
Born in Taiwan, Andreas spent two years living in Bangkok before settling in Discovery Bay with his parents Lars and Jeanette – both of whom are Danish – as a three-year-old. His dad Lars worked for IKEA – hence the moving around – but Hong Kong had a certain appeal to the family and marked the final stop on an extensive Asian tour.
Andreas started his schooling at Discovery Bay International School, before shifting to Discovery College. He then headed to Denmark to spend the 2013/ 14 school year at Oure College of Sport & Performing Arts, before returning to complete his last two years of study at West Island School. He graduated in May of this year, marking the end of a testing period in which the teenager precariously juggled his schooling with his sporting career.
“I would average about five hours of sleep a night,” Andreas says. “I would go to training after school and then get home, eat dinner and do homework. I’d go to bed at one in the morning and then wake up again at 6.30am.”
It was memories of this period that made Andreas’ signing with Raith in late July all the more rewarding. “It’s a dream come true,” he says. “I know it sounds cheesy but football is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do and it’s been so difficult. It was so much hard work and the relief of that having paid off by getting this contract is just massive.”
The attacking midfielder started playing soccer at the age of four for the Discovery Bay Dragons (now the Hong Kong Dragons Football Cub) and immediately became enamoured by the sport. He progressed to play in the juniors for Hong Kong Premier League-side Kitchee via selection in FCBEscola, the Hong Kong Academy of Spanish footballing powerhouse Barcelona FC that Kitchee jointly runs.
It was at Oure College of Sport & Performing Arts that Andreas’ thoughts of becoming a professional footballer began to evolve past a pipe dream. “I came from Hong Kong where no one has really gone top, top professional,” he explains. “When I went to Denmark, there were five different teams for under 16s and I made it into the first team. I was really surprised about that and it was then that I thought ‘OK, this could be serious’.”
On returning from his year in Denmark in which he “learnt so much”, Andreas played for Hong Kong Football Club, starting with the colts team in the Yau Yee League and working his way on to the senior side. He helped the club finish second in the Hong Kong first division and, as a result, gain an automatic promotion to the premier division.
Despite his success with Hong Kong Football Club, Andreas is quick to bring the conversation back to where it all began. “DB Dragons was my start,” he says. “I’ve been attached to the game ever since I started there.”
The road to Raith
It was HK Dragons coach James Dean who started the process of Andreas being signed by Raith through a contact of his, who in turn had contacts in Scotland. Andreas made a YouTube video in June this year and sent it to the club. “They were really pleased and wanted to have me over for a two-week trial,” he says. Two weeks turned into four weeks and before he knew it, Andreas was staring down the barrel of his first-ever professional football contract.
“The contract that I am on now isan apprentice, which is a first-yearprofessional,” he says. “I’ll be in theunder 20s but I train with the first teamregularly. I’ll be on the bench for the first team as well.”
Put into context, Raith is in the second division in Scotland, one division below historic Scottish Premiership clubs such as Celtic and Rangers.
“With the quality of players the team has it will be a huge challenge but I’d like to see myself making regular appearances,” Andreas says. “Perhaps making the starting 11 will be difficult, but making regular appearances coming off the bench would be a more realistic goal for me.”
As for the future, while he admits that “the ultimate goal is to reach the top”, Andreas is content to soak up as much as he can and keep drawing on the motivation that has got him this far. “Every time you go on to the field it’s a different opponent and something different can happen,” he says. “No game is played twice so, in a sense, everything is always different and that is what I like. As an attacking player, there is so much creativity that the game allows you to do.”
Inspiration is also on offer from Andreas’ new flatmates, from whom the confident youngster is determined to learn as much as possible. “I’m living in an apartment with two other Raith Rovers players, one from Ireland who has played for the Irish national team under 20s and another guy who used to play for Sheffield United under 21s,” he says. “They have been in [football] academies their whole lives and I’ve done IB [International Baccalaureate] and played in Hong Kong, that’s the stuff that motivates me.”
While Andreas admits the move to the “cute little town” of Kirkcaldy, after the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, has called for a lifestyle adjustment, the difficulty of being away from his parents is offset by the fact that his 20-year-old sister Amanda is living in England, studying midwifery at the University of Surrey. “That is pretty cool,” he says.
As for career pursuits of his own, Andreas enjoyed the marketing and management block of his IB curriculum and says that is something he can see himself doing if football doesn’t work out. For now, however, his goal is to “pursue football 100%”.