Exclusive Interview: Euan Spark

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

(Image credit: Highland News & Media YouTube channel)

JR: You signed for Elgin City in 2019. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe a club such as Elgin City?

ES: I am really enjoying my time at Elgin City. Coming from full time football Elgin City have a very professional environment in the way that the club is run, in training, the way that the boys get looked after and what the club does for the supporters and the youth academy too. Elgin City is probably the closest club I have been to part-time wise that are as close you can get to a full time professional football setup really.

JR: You came through the youth setup and debuted for Dundee United. How do you look back on your time at the club and did you learn anything in particular that stood you in good stead for your career as a professional footballer?

ES: Yes, I was at Dundee United from the age of 9 right up until the age of 19 so I spent a long time at the club - I loved every minute. I just wish I was at the club right now but unfortunately that is the way things went after we got relegated which resulted in a complete wipeout, I just did not get my chance to stay which I thought I was going to. I went full time as a player when I was 15 and Dundee United is a bit of a different club now in terms of the caliber of players that we had at the club. We had experienced pro's such as John Daily, John Rankin, Barry Douglas and Andy Robertson now playing for Liverpool. Also the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay- Steven and it was an unbelievable team we had there and the grounding that you got as a player was brilliant and Jackie McNamara came in as manager and he is probably one of Scotland's best ever right backs and to have him coaching me was unbelievable and to be around such players and management was a great ground and a brilliant experience.

JR: You played two seasons for Brechin City. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

ES: Yes, Brechin is where I am from and I was brought up in Edzell, Angus which is only one mile outside Brechin and Brechin City are a team I have supported all my days. I used to go as a fan every Saturday home and away when I could so to play for them was a huge amount of pride for me and it is just obviously a shame in what happened when we got to the Scottish Championship, it was a massive level and we held are own up until Christmas and then the Tuesday and Saturday games would take their toll. My highlights from my time at the club would be playing Celtic at Celtic Park. We took a 5-0 hiding but for Brechin City to take 2000 fans there is a massive day out for us. I thought I would never see Brechin City play at Celtic Park and when you are actually on the pitch playing and even through it was a 5-0 defeat I think we gave a great account of ourselves/ I think at that stage Celtic were still unbeaten for about two years. The Scottish Championship season was always going to be a battle and going into League One I never thought I would see us at the bottom of the league and still to this day people ask me what I think happened and I don't know. We had a good squad of players that all wanted to win and it is just one of them ones where we could not get the win and we ended up getting relegated again which was a shame to take them down to Scottish League Two and especially to see the club now. I hope for their sake that they can get out of it. I am still a fan of Brechin City and I hope the club can get back to where they should be.

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JR: You have accrued a lot of experience in your career so far, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

ES: I have been fortunate to play with many good players so far in my career. Andy Robertson, Ryan Gauld, John Southar, Stuart Armstrong, Gary MacKay-Steven, Johnny Russell, David Goodwillie, Barry Douglas among others and so many players from that Dundee United squad have gone on to do unbelievable things. We even had Guy Demel come in at the end of the season and he has won the African Cup of Nations twice, Eiji Kawashima who was the Japanese goalkeeper at multiple World Cups Florent Sinama Pongolle came to Dundee United and he won the Champions League with Liverpool and was capped by his country of France. One of the best players I played with was Nadir Çiftçi. I have never seen somebody so good in training, he was unbelievable in his touch and finishing and he was also so good to the young players. I remember he would help and work the full backs and he is probably the best talent that I have seen and when he went to Celtic, I thought he would kick on and become one of the next big things but it did not work out for some reason.

JR: I can imagine in your position as a defender that you have come up against many difficult opponents through the years, could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

ES: Yes, James Forest at Celtic was phenomenal to be fair. In the game that I played at Celtic Park for Brechin City he played together with Scott Sinclair. Those two players in particular stand out and that season in particular they were absolutely flying. They really did teach us a lesson that day.

JR: Finally Euan, could you say which coaches and managers have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

ES: Yes, Jackie McNamara was the one who gave me my first professional contract so he obviously stands out in that respect. The main one for me would be Dave Bowman. He is a Dundee United legend. He played in the famous Dundee United team of Jim McClean. He coached me from the age of 12 to 19 years of age and he was brilliant and he taught me everything he knew of his experiences and he is something I still keep in touch with now. He is someone that I have so much respect for and so does my Mum too. Dave Bowman brought me through in football and always kept in touch with my Mum. He was also the manager that gave me my full professional debut at Dundee United in the one game that he had in charge. He trusted me during his game in charge and the biggest one for me would be Dave Bowman. Dundee United have always had a core of legend players at the club. Hamish McAlpine would always be about as Club Ambassador. Paul Hegarty was assistant manager when I first arrived at the club so I had the big guys around me that knew the history of Dundee United and they know what the club means and that is a big thing coming through as a kid that you understand how big Dundee United is.

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.