Toure crowns incredible 12-month story in Adelaide's FFA Cup Final 2019 triumph
Al Hassan Toure was sat in front of his television at home when Adelaide United lifted the FFA Cup Final in 2018.
Twelve months later, the 19-year-old striker was the hero as his side secured a record third trophy after a 4-0 win over Melbourne City.
Toure opened the scoring after 25 minutes, netting his fifth goal in five FFA Cup matches, and play a key role in Adelaide's second and third goals, before being substituted to a standing ovation on 72 minutes.
To top it all, after the teen prodigy had written his name up in lights with a cup final performance for the ages, he was awarded the prestigious Mark Viduka medal.
That resounding triumph in the City of Churches crowned a stunning elevation to first team football for the teenager, who has emerged from obscurity to become the unlikely story of new boss Gertjan Verbeek's reign so far.
Although the club have long held high hopes for the Guinean refugee, Adelaide had not highlighted the first-team prospects of Toure to Verbeek in the same manner of some of his colleagues when the experienced Dutch manager arrived down under.
“Considering I was watching from home last year, winning the cup means a lot," Toure said in a moving post match interview with FOX Sports.
“In front of the home fans [and with] support from friends and family, it’s been a joy to play
“This is a dream come true. It’s been a long time, we’ve been working hard. It’s just a dream come true.”
Reds fans chanted Toure's name as he climbed the stairs to lift the cup in an emotional scene at Coopers Stadium.
Around an hour earlier, the 19-year-old had been in tears after rolling City defender Harrison Delbridge and releasing Riley McGree to set up Ben Halloran to score Adelaide's second.
He soaked in the jubilant scenes draped in the flag of Liberia, the nation of his parents.
Toure, who was born a refugee in Guinea before migrating to Australia at the age of five, hoped his performances would be recognised in his family's native land.
“It shows people back home ... that I have come here and I have played and, kind of, giving them a legacy, that you can chase your dreams and your dreams will come true if you keep pushing and fighting for it.”
He revealed his father, Amara, was a semi-professional footballer in Liberia and was a big inspiration behind his career.
“When my dad trained me in the back yard, he always said never be afraid, always take a risk in the game,” he said.
“And that is what makes the best players – to try something new, to try to improvise in situations.”
Pressed on where his allegiance would lie at international level, Toure's answer was a diplomatic one: “It would be great to play for my country but also Australia gave me opportunities,” he said.
A meteoric rise
Such a rapid ascent to stardom may have shocked Australian football, but that is certainly not a feeling shared by his teammates.
“He's not surprising us anymore,” said Adelaide attacker Halloran of Toure's remarkable emergence.
“He just keeps on doing it. You almost expect him to score when he plays.”
"I think he's destined for really big things."
“I'm really happy on his behalf," said Adelaide skipper Michael Jakobsen.
“He's a good kid. He works very hard every day. He's one of the last ones to go away from training. He does a lot of stuff around the club.
“He's sometimes doing the hard things, but everything's just happening for him at the moment. I'm really happy for him.”
“We haven't seen a player of this type come through in the A-League yet," added FOX Sports commentator Andy Harper.
“This is breaking new ground. I'm so excited for the kid and for Adelaide United.”
Toure’s flying start
The teenager burst into the national conscious 12 minutes into his first start for the Reds, in an FFA Cup Round of 32 encounter against Melbourne Knights a little over 11 weeks ago.
His first goal for the club set them on the way to a 5-2 victory, and two weeks after his professional debut, he signed his first scholarship contract.
The talented striker added two more goals to his tally in a 3-2 Round of 16 win at Brisbane Olympic, rewarding Verbeek for fast-tracking his route to the first team after he had scored in four straight NPL SA matches.
“Al Hassan is a very talented young footballer and he’s impressed Gertjan, all our other senior coaches, and I throughout this pre-season,” Director of Football Bruce Djite said, after his deal was announced.
“His strong form in the NPL ultimately enabled him the opportunity to train with the first team, which he has taken with both hands.”
Stepping up a level
The 19-year-old was on the score sheet again in the Quarter Final against Newcastle Jets, his first goal against Hyundai A-League opposition proving decisive in a 1-0 victory.
Toure flew under the radar in the Semi Final, and he was replaced before the Reds made their dramatic comeback to win 2-1 against the Central Coast Mariners, but he responded by announcing himself once again with a goal on his Hyundai A-League debut.
After Verbeek handed him a starting role, Toure struck on 51 minutes, before being substituted in the 77th minute of the season opening 3-2 loss to Sydney FC.
He also made an 18-minute cameo in the Reds' 2-1 defeat to Melbourne City but, following Wednesday's performance, Toure will no doubt be pushing for an even bigger role than anyone expected in the 2019/20.
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