20-year old Liam Coogans has had a turbulent time in his short professional football career so far. However, with his summer switch to East Kilbride, he hopes his career can lift off, once again.
The youngster had a mixed youth career, bouncing around a few clubs before eventually settling with Airdrieonians.
“I was in and out of a few pro-youth systems; I was in at Hibs, Aberdeen and I was also in at Kilmarnock. I was then at East Kilbride for a short period of time before I moved to Airdrieonians and worked my way into the first team.”
Coogans made an instant impact, breaking onto the scene at just 16 years old.
“It is brilliant when you are that age – you are enjoying playing with so many experienced pros and learning off them all the time. It was also good to get game time up against ‘real men’; when you are playing for your age group, you are playing against guys at the same age as you but once you are in a first-team, you can be playing up against guys of any age, so, that helped me improve as a player and become more physically fit and strong. I thought it was good for me, anyways, as it allowed me to adapt to be able to cope in that type of environment at such a young age.”
At the end of the following season, Coogans had scored 3 goals in 26 appearances and was subject of interest from English side Huddersfield Town.
“The manager told me at the time that people were coming to games and watching me because I was doing so well. He encouraged me to just keep doing as I had been and I would get a chance to go higher up – but, to be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be that big a move at that time. I presumed it’d maybe be another League One team or maybe someone slightly higher up in Scotland, but I certainly wasn’t anticipating it being such a big team from down England that’d come in for me. The deal came as a shock but it was one I had to take – it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
It was a difficult spell for Coogans, who eventually moved back to Scotland just over a year later.
“Going from part-time to full-time, it is difficult to get used to and adapt to that sort of level. Going down to England and joining a Championship team, it was a big step-up. I think they wanted me to try understand how they wanted to play the game, how the club was run and so on. I was also looking to improve my fitness and once I had got settled, I felt I was progressing well. Looking back now, it was a good move for me at the time, but it just didn’t work out the way I had hoped and expected it to. I came back up on loan to Queen of the South and that was a good experience, getting to play at good venues like Ibrox. When any young boy gets the opportunity to go down to England, they have got to take it, no matter which club you are at. I don’t regret going down, it is just one of they things that happens.”
“I went on trial with Dunfermline and Livingston,” explains Coogans, after his release from Huddersfield. “At that time, though, I just didn’t feel as if joining those clubs was the right move for me and my career. I needed game time and once I had got the phone call from Darren Dods at Brechin, I went in and played a few games. I scored the goal which kept Brechin in the league – and now they are in the Championship, so, I think getting another type of experience under my belt and getting back to playing competitive football again made me enjoy my time there even more. Once I left Brechin, I went into Queens Park,” continues Coogans. “It didn’t really work out for me there, for whatever reason. Then, my old manager at Airdrie was in charge at Fauldhouse so I went there for a month or so and I managed to score 8 or 9 goals. I then got a wee move to Linlithgow Rose. We were struggling and it probably wasn’t the best time to go, but, at that time, it was another step back up the ladder and now that I have signed with East Kilbride, I hope to kick on further again and try get myself, as well as the club, into League Two.”
Despite the setbacks Coogans has suffered so far in his career, he is determined and focused on getting back to a higher level in the years to come.
“Due to previously being at East Kilbride, I had always looked out for their scores. I saw how close they got last year and I saw that as a bit of game-changer – they done so well last year and hopefully we can go one better this year. When I was younger, I used to set myself goals targets but now that I am 20, turning 21, I just want to get back and playing games regularly. If I’m enjoying my football again, then I will be happy. If I get a good return of goals, then that is just a bonus. I’ve got a hunger to go back full-time. Hopefully if I can play well, people will be able to see what I am capable of as I definitely feel I am capable of getting back to the levels I was at previously. I think I would rather go back full-time in Scotland, to be honest – but I would never not consider any other type of deal, either. This is all ifs and buts, though – I need to do the business with East Kilbride first and I am sure after that, things will take care of themselves.”
Coogans concluded by giving some advice, to those youngster considering the lucrative move down south.
“For me, I think, if you get the opportunity to go down to England, then you need to take it, but, t needs to be right for you and your family. It is hard – when you go down, you are away from your family for extended periods of time, you need to be strong enough to cope with that. If you ever had doubts, I would strongly encourage you not to go down. It is a better standard – they have have greater facilities and of course they do pay you more money!”