Scouting isn’t rocket science! Every time a Premier League side signs a good foreign player the nation goes crazy. Who is this mystery guy? Where did he come from? Anyone with a decent knowledge of the game outside the UK would have known that the likes of Santi Cazorla, Oscar and Papisse Demba Cissé were likely to succeed, and there are plenty more of them out there. So who’s the next “secret” star to watch out for? Who is the next Cabaye?
There are plenty of unwanted epithets in football. Who wants the burden of being “The New Maradona” for example? Many have been saddled with such monikers and wilted under the pressure. I’m not sure what I’d think about being labelled “The Next Harry Kewell” though. On the one hand, I suppose it’s setting the bar fairly low in terms of expectation; on the other, is getting married to a soap star and breaking down injured every couple of months really something to aspire to? Only Tommy Oar can tell you.
Oar is constantly saddled with the title, but it’s a little misleading. Sure, he’s Australian. Sure, he’s left-footed and basically an attacking player. But the similarites stop at that superficial level.
There are plenty of players from outside Europe who see a move to Holland as a bridge to something else. It’s a competitive league but gives a grounding in European football while offering the chance to shine and earn a move to one of the bigger leagues. Oar made a smart move to a well-organised side which is punching above its weight, and might well benefit from it.
Oar arrived in Holland in 2010, having won the A-League Young Player of the Year award for that year. The move came about after an enterprising Dutch agent saw the business sense in importing Australian players into the Eredivisie. Oar, Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota were transplanted wholesale from Brisbane Roar to Utrecht, and after acclimatising himself in reserve football, made the breakthrough into the first team, having a decent first half of the 2011-12 season.
However, new boss Jan Wouters didn’t fancy him and he dropped out of the side, leading to speculation about whether he needed to find another club to gain game time. The Aussie stayed put though, showing an admirable willingness to work his way through and learned from the experience, telling Goal.com.
“I need to be more consistent. At the beginning of the season I had five or six really good games and then a few games where I went missing. I just need to work on being good every single week.
“Of course everyone wants to be playing but sometimes it’s out of your control. So all you can do is work hard at training and wait for your opportunity.
“That’s the way things go sometimes, different coach, different philosophy but to be honest we’ve all been working pretty hard and we’ve learned a lot in the last six months, on and off the field.”
He regained Wouters’ trust, helped no doubt by a last minute winner off the bench against Excelsior. He started the current campaign in the first team and has established himself as a regular with his energetic shuttling on the left hand side of a midfield diamond.
His pace and directness are his main assts when going forwards, although he has quick feet when in a jam, and he’s not averse to tracking back. Defenders who back off him will find that he also has an eye for a long range shot and isn’t scared of pulling the trigger.
He made an impressive start to his international career. Brought on for his debut in the 79th minute of a World Cup qualifier with Australia 1-0 down to Iraq, he might have had nothing to do with the equaliser a minute later, but he proveded the assist from Archie Thompson winner with six minutes left.
That intervention helped him into the preliminary squad for the 2012 World Cup, but despite travelling to the training camp in South Africa, he failed to make the cut. He seems to have the sort of personality to bounce back from such setbacks though, and has continued to do well when given the opportunity in international football. In his first start for his country he starred in a 1-0 win over Indonesia which qualified Australia for the Asia Cup, and his brilliant last minute free kick, voted goal of the tournament, against Ecuador in the Under-20 World Cup showed that he can come up with the goods on the big occasion.
So “The Next Harry Kewell? I don’t think so. “The Next Cabaye”? Absolutely.