Two young soccer students are living the American dream as they bid to become stars of the future.
David Gould and Liam Morran swapped their homes in Erskine and Neilston for college life in the States as they attempt to kick-start their careers as professional footballers.
And to aid their chances of being snapped up by top clubs, the duo have signed up for sports scholarships at highly-rated American universities.
Both lads made the long journey across the Atlantic after accepting moves initiated by Soccer Innovation, a firm run by former St Mirren star and Express Sports columnist Ricky Gillies and business partner Barry Hume, a retired professional golfer from Renfrew who started his rise to the European Tour by going to college across the Pond.
Talented left-back Gould, 19, is now attending Saint Ambrose University in Iowa, while Morran, who is also 19, has enrolled at Tennessee’s Freed-Hardeman University.
And both boys admit they are having the time of their life combining their football hopes with a sensible approach to their education.
Former Park Mains High School pupil David said: “It has always been my ambition to play at the highest level that I can achieve.
“However, as I have matured I realise the importance of gaining a college degree for my future after football.
“I believe that studying and playing at a US college is the best way for me to achieve these two goals.
“I am aware that it will involve hard work and dedication, but I am determined to succeed and will give it 100 per cent at all times.”
And Liam, who attended St Luke’s High School in Barrhead before his big flit, added: “It would fulfil a lifelong ambition to take my football career to the highest level.
“But I also want to be able to further my education, in case I don’t make it as a footballer.
“So I decided that a soccer scholarship in the US was an excellent opportunity to enhance both ambitions.”
As a youngster, David took his first steps towards a career in the game with St Mirren Boys Club and Erskine Boys Club.
But he admits he might have stumbled had it not been for the help of the Soccer Innovation team.
“It took me a lot of time and research to decide which type of college I wanted to go to in the US as there is a huge range of establishments to consider,” he said.
“Without the help of the team at Soccer Innovation, I think I would still be looking.
“Barry is very knowledgeable about college life in the US, as he has been through the whole process himself, while with Ricky being an ex-professional footballer, he is a great help during the showcase games that they organised in order to produce my profile video.
“The video is a great way to get yourself noticed by US college coaches – without it you would struggle to get any feedback from them.”
Since making his big switch to America’s MidWest in August, Gould – just one of a number of foreign students studying at Saint Ambrose – has settled well into his new surroundings. But life abroad did take some getting used to.
David said: “I have been here for a few weeks now, and I feel as though I am beginning to get used to the soccer-academic routine which is really hectic.
“During preseason we had training twice a day at 7.30am and 4pm. Bleep tests were a daily occurrence, along with a handful of other fitness and agility tests.
“The training is intense and a high quality is expected from start to finish. I’m sure having several other Brits, as well as Dutch, German and Aussie lads around, has helped raise the level of soccer at St Ambrose. Plus, it makes things more interesting as we have quite a few characters on the squad.
“The games are high-paced, competitive and a really good standard
“We have a promising team here filled with talented boys looking to do big things on and off the pitch.
“Our home pitch is the best grass park I have ever played on, while the training facilities and athletic training department in the States are on a different level to back home. We are treated like professionals, which is quite a nice feeling!”
And David encouraged other talented youngsters to give the US a try – but did warn them it’s not all child’s play.
“The level of fitness required here is a lot higher than I have experienced at any of the teams I have previously played for,” he said.
“And guys should be ready for the climate over here. In Iowa, it is seriously hot, which takes a bit of getting used to for guys coming over from rain-soaked Scotland.
“Also, the academic side of things should never be shunned. We are here to earn the grades needed to take us on to bigger and better things with regards to jobs and careers. If you don’t push yourself in class and work for good grades, you won’t even be eligible to play for the team.
“However, classes over here are interesting, and by immersing yourself in the American way of living, it all makes you want to go to classes, stay positive and get good grades.”