17-year-old Ashwin Raman, like many teenagers, has a life with football playing a large part in its centre – but he happens to have a very unique role on the other side of the world at Dundee United.

Born in America and based in Bangalore, India, he has never been to Dundee or the UK for that matter. But that isn’t a problem as he is taken under the Tannadice club’s wing, who are embracing forward-thinking ideas in the analysis and first-team recruitment department.

19/03/19 LADBROKES CHAMPIONSHIP.DUNDEE UNITED v ROSS COUNTY.TANNADICE - DUNDEE.A general view of Tannadice.

Dundee United have made a forward thinking move. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Raman told NTOF  how all this came about: “I’m in my final year at school and in my spare time I work as an analyst and scout for Dundee United. When I was 11 or 12, I was at my aunt’s house, and came across a copy of Soccernomics.

“I was hooked immediately when I started reading that, spent hours with it! That got me interested in analysis and smart ways of looking at the game. That lead me to other books which lead to blogs. After all that reading I was really hooked. I decided I wanted to do some blogging of my own. I had no experience in professional football at all before Dundee United came in.

“In 2019 I got a message from Stevie Grieve, the head of analysis at Dundee United. He asked if I wanted to join the club on a part-time basis and I couldn’t believe it. Obviously I accepted, I was more than happy to join, I was 16.”

Dundee United v Kilmarnock - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Early swap. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Dundee United weren’t a club he knew much about when Grieve dropped into his DM’s on Twitter but he has soon got to grips with what the club is about, the history and tradition behind it.

“I knew absolutely nothing about Dundee United apart from the fact Andy Robertson had played for them and that they had beaten Barcelona a couple of times,” Raman joked. “I also thought Scottish football was kick and rush. But that opinion has totally changed.

“Dundee United fans are some of the best people, some of the reactions I’ve had since it was made public that I work for Dundee United have been wonderful.  I am really pleased to see how the reaction has been.”

Dundee United v Arbroath FC - Ladbrokes Championship

Fans have responded. (Photo by Euan Cherry / SNS Group via Getty Images)

With the transfer window arriving just as studying begins for his school exams, January is a month where the 17-year-old will find his hands full. He explains how he juggles both his school work and unearthing gems for Micky Mellon’s side.

“I do spend most of my time doing homework and then I do my role with Dundee United on the side,” said Raman. “I think I am balancing both well. The club have been extremely good with the school stuff.

“I was given a few months free last year so that I could complete my exams which was really good. It is first-team level, scouting for the senior side and assessing first-team performance every few games. We have video from most football leagues so I look at players all across Europe, especially the most undervalued leagues.

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Indian Super League players are being targeted. (MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s not just limited to the Indian Super League but there are a few players there that I do have my eyes on. My exams are mid-February but over Christmas I’ve had a few weeks off, so it’s been a busy couple of weeks with no school!”

With some skill, luck and a few good words here and there, Raman has managed to earn himself a brilliant experience in football as the modern game moves forward. A career in the sport full-time has never been on his mind and for now he’s keen to see where life takes him.

“I’ve been interviewed by newspapers and magazines from across Europe, it’s been an overwhelming but brilliant experience,” he explained. “I’m still undecided on what I am going to do when I leave school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at college until fairly recently.

Raman isn’t looking too far forward.

“I have never seen football as my number one career path. I want to just keep going with the flow instead of pursuing football, and that’s the same with other stuff. The fact a club would hire a 16-year-old from India, despite being able to hire people far better than me… you need a lot of luck as football is an extremely hard industry to break into.

“I am not looking too far into the future just yet. I will keep doing what I am doing for the club and spending time studying for school so I can get into a good college. I will see what happens rather than setting a set goal.”

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