EXCLUSIVE: Socceroos legend Robbie Slater explains the drastic step back young gun Garang Kuol would need to take to get his career back on track after a ‘soul destroying’ start in Europe
- Garang Kuol was a disappointment at Hearts in Scotland
- The 18-year-old was on loan after signing with Newcastle United
- Touted in some circles as the Socceroos’ next big thing
- Robbie Slater stressed playing time is the key to moving forward
- Suggest playing for the Under-23 team at St James’ Park
Former Socceroo Robbie Slater has asked Garang Kuol to return to Newcastle next season – and play with the club’s Under-23 side after struggling to get playing time since leaving Australia .
This follows a disappointing loan spell at Hearts in Scotland, where the striker only made seven appearances after arriving to much hype in January.
Much was expected of the rising star, especially after his eye-catching performances for Australia at the World Cup in Qatar last year – but the 18-year-old has barely featured in the Jam Tarts.
It was hoped that joining fellow Australians Kye Rowles, Nathaniel Atkinson and Cam Devlin at Tynecastle Park would ease the transition for Kuol.
This was not the case.
Socceroos great Robbie Slater has asked Garang Kuol to return to Newcastle next season – and play with the club’s Under-23 side
It follows a disappointing loan spell at Hearts in Scotland, where Kuol only played seven games after arriving to much hype in January (pictured, in action against Rangers)
And while Slater’s proposal may seem drastic to some football fans, it has proven to be a fruitful exercise for fellow Socceroos youngster Alex Robertson at Manchester City.
“Alex trains every day with world-class players and regularly plays football in the Premier League 2 competition,” Slater told Daily Mail Australia.
“He recently showed his class for the Socceroos against Ecuador and it looks like he will be a key player for the national team over the next few years.
‘Garang must follow a similar path if he is to fulfill his potential… I said at the time that a move to Scotland wouldn’t suit his style of play, and I’m sure the experience at Hearts would have been a little destructive.
“But he has to put that behind him now and start games – and lots of them.”
Slater also pointed to the fact Newcastle would likely finish in the Premier League top four which would secure an automatic Champions League place next season.
The feat will see an array of talented new faces arrive at St James’ Park – and given that their combined owners are estimated to be worth $620bn, they are a growing club in many ways.
Garang Kuol was denied by Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez late in the second half at the World Cup round of 16 in Qatar on December 3.
Had the 18-year-old scored, Australia would have pushed eventual champions Argentina into extra time (pictured, scoring Lionel Messi)
Slater – who didn’t find it easy initially abroad after securing a transfer from Sydney United to Belgian giants Anderlecht in 1989 – stressed that patience was key.
“Garang is just a boy, the burden of some people’s expectations worries me,” he said.
“It’s raw talent, but far from the finished product.
“A-League fans will recall that he was used extensively off the bench by the [Central Coast] Mariners, which was good considering his age and his ability to ask questions of tired defenders.
“I remember when I went abroad, I had stars in my eyes and it was very hard for me in Anderlecht.
“I had the chance to start with Lens [in France] who then offered me an opportunity with Blackburn in the Premier League.
“Garang’s focus should be regular minutes on the pitch. His next move is crucial to me.