'Grateful' Young living his dream after rubbing shoulders with Rooney

Jamie Young had effectively retired from professional football when Brisbane Roar handed him a "lifeline" route back into the game that had long been his life.

The goalkeeper, then 30, was without a club halfway through 2014 and preparing to commit himself to a PhD in genetic research.

Out of the blue – literally, for the Sunshine State – came an offer to leave behind more than a decade of toil in dreary England in exchange for a return to the home town he left as a teenager. 

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"It was a bit of a no-brainer," Young tells a-league.com.au.

"It's actually prolonged my career in the sense it was very much a lifeline. I can't thank people enough for bringing me here.

"It means I didn't do a PhD in human genetic research, I now do one in sport psychology. It actually worked out really well.

"I'm doing a PhD at the second best university in Australia and I get to play football for the club in the city I was born in.

"It's a great life to play football and to meet people from other industries as well.

"I'm very grateful for what I've been given. I love learning. I think life is such an opportunity every day."

Young has cultivated his carpe diem attitude for some time, the reigning Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year having gone to extraordinary lengths in pursuit of a professional career.

The Queensland Academy of Sport graduate left home while still a high school student to move to another hemisphere and sign for Reading. 

It was not long after his arrival that a Harry Kewell-inspired Australia famously toppled England in their own backyard, a match he describes a "beautiful" moment in the nation's footballing history.

Young was there but despite his accent and upbringing, the youngster had cause for split loyalties.

Ray Clemence, the Liverpool great and long-serving England goalkeeping coach, had recently brought him into the Three Lions' youth setup.

"I remember it vividly," he recalls. "I had just gone away with the England U-18s and the next week I got tickets to the game at Upton Park.

"Ray was trying to see if I had an Aussie shirt on! It was incredible. I remember it really well.

"I was happy the Aussies won, absolutely."

Young had also been a team-mate of the night's main attraction, England debutant Wayne Rooney.

Jamie Young

Rooney, James Milner and Gary Cahill, all future FIFA World Cup participants, are among the players Young name-checks in reflecting on trips to places like Russia and Egypt, the kind of formative experiences which eventually added up to him becoming an ambassador for Multicultural Development Australia.

"Although it wasn't senior football, it's nice to say I was there," he says of the several years spent rubbing shoulders with the country's best young talent.

"It was good to experience even at that level. Wayne Rooney was the only one still in school. You could see that raw talent. 

"Milner was an incredibly hard-working player and Cahill had a very good presence on the ball. 

"They're good memories to have.

"I don't regret representing England in that space, although sitting here now in Australia… at that time, at 17 years old, you don't see the whole picture you like do when you're 33.

"I still keep in touch with some of the guys today, which is nice. When you look back now at this age you realise you were part of something special.

"I just ran into Steven Taylor, who I haven't seen since 2006! He was in my Under-20 team. 

"It just shows you how small the world can be."

Jamie Young