Reagan Thomson: "Newcastle is the place I want to be"
Written by Dan King
Teenager Reagan Thomson has spoken of his delight after swapping the black and white of Scottish amateur side Queen's Park for the black and white of Premier League Newcastle United.
"The only difference is that Queen's Park's stripes are sideways, and Newcastle's are up and down," the 16-year-old smiled after joining the Magpies on a scholarship contract - subject to international clearance - this week.
"I don't think it's sunk in much yet," he told nufc.co.uk in his first interview. "When I'm just walking about the place it's like 'I'm actually here!'.
"It's good and it's exciting, and we'll see what happens over the next few weeks or few years."
Thomson started playing football for boys' club Park Villa when he was eight, before he was quickly spotted by Glasgow-based Queen's Park, where he progressed through the ranks before making his first team debut in September.
That was the first of nine senior appearances he made for the Scottish League Two side this season, and his performances caught the eye of a host of leading clubs in England and Scotland.
"I would say League Two in Scotland isn't really that much about passing and all the fancy stuff - a lot of it is just dirty, passion, do you know what I mean?," he said. "It toughens you up a bit, but at the same time it makes you think twice as fast. It probably makes you play two times faster, so it helps you.
"I just thought Newcastle is the place I want to be, a better place to come in my opinion. You look at boys like Sean and Matty Longstaff, and then young Tom Allan who came on the other night - hopefully in a few years, I can try and get in there.
"As a number ten, I like to try and get in behind or go at people, or thread passes - the same as if I'm sitting deeper. But when you're sitting deeper, you just try to control the game a bit and dictate the play. But if you're playing next to the striker, you've got to try and make runs in behind, runs short, down the line, and try and score a few goals or assist a few."
Thomson has three caps for Scotland at under-17 level, which came in European Championship qualifiers against Armenia, Iceland and Croatia.
"Those were my first three, and I'm hoping to get back in the squad for the Elite Round in March to qualify (for the Euros) so hopefully if I can do well here, I can get back in," he said. "I played 90 (minutes) against Iceland and got two assists - but we got beat off Croatia and I missed a penalty so we'll never speak of that again...
"I think nerves came across me for a wee split second. I had so much confidence at Queen's Park taking them. I stepped up for Scotland and I changed my mind at the last minute and put it over the bar. I don't think I'll go near a penalty for a while!".
Thomson has been shown around St. James' Park and is looking forward to the day - if all goes to plan - that he gets to play there, but he's no stranger to stepping out at impressive venues; Queen's Park play their home games at Hampden Park, Scotland's national stadium.
He admitted: "When you look at say an Old Firm game with 50,000, and you're just listening to the noise and how packed it looks, and then you go to 400 or 500 at Queen's Park, it's different, but Hampden itself as a pitch is obviously brilliant to play on, brilliant for me to play on, and the size of it just gives you a wee taste of how big actually stadiums really are."
This will be the teenager's first time living away from home - he's currently living in digs in North Tyneside but his mother, Michelle, is planning to move to the area shortly - and until recently, he'd never been outside of the United Kingdom. Indeed, his player profile on Queen's Park's official website states that 'Reagan enjoys holidaying in Scotland,' but Thomson laughed: "I went to Spain with (the national team) in September - so now I'll say I like holidaying in Spain!".
The youngster will train at United's Little Benton Academy but what are his longer term aims?
"Just the same as Queen's Park - to try and get in the first team as quickly as possible," he replied immediately. "If it takes two years, or - if I get an extended contract - four years, just to try and get in the team.
"I need to work hard, I need to get the sports science side of it - I need to get right in about that, because I've not had it at Queen's Park - so hopefully I can get a chance by playing well. Playing ability is not an issue too much - although obviously I can still improve on that - but sports science is massive because that'll get you stronger, it'll get you faster and it'll make you a better player.
"And that's another reason I've come here. I know coming here, whether I make it or don't make it, I'll improve massively with the sports science.
"It's a wee bit frustrating waiting for the international clearance, so that might take two or three weeks, but once that gets cleared then I'm hoping to just work hard, train hard every day, make an impact and do something to get the coaches talking."
"Newcastle is the place I want to be... you look at boys like Sean and Matty Longstaff, and then young Tom Allan who came on the other night - hopefully in a few years, I can try and get in there."