EX-CLARET Martin Dobson has backed Cameron Howieson to have a bright future in football.
The former England and Burnley midfielder was instrumental in bringing the young New Zealander to Turf Moor in the summer of 2011.
Since then Dunedin-born Howieson, who has only just turned 18, has gone on to earn a professional contract in his first year apprenticeship, make his first team debut, be fast-tracked from the Kiwi’s Under 17s to senior set-up and represent his country in the London 2012 Olympics.
It has been a whirlwind few months for the midfielder, who was named the League Football Education’s apprentice of the month for December.
But Dobson believes the best is yet to come.
“He’s had some wonderful experiences in the past 12 months, playing for his country and in different countries, and that will stand him in good stead,” he said.
“He worked his way into the first team frame last season.
“I guess it’s been difficult since with the change of manager, but he’s come on under the coaching of Faz (Andy Farrell) and Pash (Terry Pashley) and has really taken everything on board.
“He has a lovely left foot, he’s composed on the ball, his attitude is excellent, he’s a quiet lad but he is popular among his team-mates. He has all the ingredients to have every chance of a good career. He certainly has the right temperament.”
As the club’s director of youth at the time of Howieson’s arrival at Turf Moor from the Mosgiel club, the 64-year-old had been instrumental in attracting the teenager to East Lancashire, after following up a tip-off from another ex-Claret.
“It all started with a chat with Ian Brennan who had heard about Cameron through a contact in New Zealand,” Dobson explained.
“We got another scout involved in Jeff Taylor, and organised for Cameron to come to us for a week after he had played in some trial games for Chelsea.
“With a young player from New Zealand straight away you start thinking ‘we’re struggling’ because of the visa situation. We’d had a few knockbacks.
“But I delved a little deeper and found out that his dad, David, was born in Scotland and went over to live in New Zealand when he was seven. As a result of that Cameron had dual nationality and a British passport.
“I knew then that we could pursue it.”
Dobson revealed that the Clarets knew instantly they had a talent on their hands.
“It was around March time when we watched him in training. We realised straight away that he could play,” added Dobson.
“He just slotted in alongside older players like Stevie Hewitt and Tom Anderson and just wasn’t fazed at all.
“He had a great touch and a super attitude, and after sitting down and talking with him for a long time afterwards it was clear he was a nice lad too.
“He just wanted to be given that opportunity at a club, and we decided almost immediately that we wanted to give him that chance.”
Securing Howieson’s signature though was far from straight forward, despite the benefits of dual nationality.
“There was a lot to do to get him over here for the following season,” Dobson explained. “We had to go through the New Zealand FA and other football organisations.
“It was a long process and took a while for it all to go through, but we felt it was worth it, and the football associations we dealt with were very helpful.
“They didn’t want to stop the lad from coming but there are a lot of negotiations involved.
“But we felt it was worth it.”