Zander Clark was once set for a life in the manual labour industry – but now he’s been able to look back on that period with a smile in St Johnstone colours.
The goalkeeper has gone the hard way round to make it in football. Released from Hamilton as a kid and carrying a shoulder injury at a young age, professional football prospects looked bleak.
But the Perthshire Saints took a chance on him and he hasn’t looked back since, remaining a one-club man since 2011 outwith some loan spells away from McDiarmid Park.
Now with the number one shirt firmly in his grasp, Clark has been able to look back with a smile on what could have been.
“I had been released by Hamilton when I was 15 or 16,” he said (Saints TV). “I was just applying for normal jobs, joinery, things like that. A couple of the boys I was with at Hamilton came here.
“Tommy Campbell at the time was looking for a goalkeeper to come in. My name was put forward but I had dislocated my shoulder, so I hadn’t played in five or six months. I was a bit out of shape!
“I had a week’s trial which turned into a couple of months. Then I got a contract and it’s been forward momentum since then. I was 16 and as soon as I finished my last exam, I got my leavers form.
“I thought I’d get a joinery job as the football ship had sailed. I was told I wasn’t tall enough to make it at the top level as a goalkeeper. That set me back a bit.
“With the injury I thought I had no chance. You don’t here many breaking through into professional teams at 18 or 19. When I came in it gave me belief.”