On Monday December 16 2013, before blowing the candles out on his 18th birthday cake Ryan Gauld would no doubt have fulfilled tradition making a wish.
If his dream was to make it to the very top of the world game, then his desire will most likely be met as long as he continues maintaining the form which has already led to the tabloids burdening him with the tag as the ‘baby Messi’.
With his boyish looks, low centre of gravity, wonderful dribbling skills and a steely determination to get back on his feet after being continually scythed down by bamboozled opponents, it’s easy to see why comparisons are made with Barca’s ‘little flea’.
However turning on the tricks on a regular basis on the parks of the Scottish Professional Football League is a long way from being a superstar plying his trade in La Liga or the English Premier League, but according to those in the know this kid really could be the real deal.
We have been here before though.
History has shown us that we in Scotland can sometimes be accused, rightly, of going over the top in gushing praise and our hopes on a youngster who may have the potential to become the new Denis Law or Kenny Dalglish.
The fortunes of the likes of Mark Burchill, John Fleck and Scott Allan (another promising product of the Tannadice academy now on his fourth loan spell following his failure to make the break at West Bromwich Albion) should have taught us about the dangers in getting carried away, but with Gauld it seems correct to do so.
Scouts from Real Madrid have already ventured north of the border to keep tabs on him whilst David Moyes has already made it clear he would be keen to watch him in the flesh.
Gauld though appears to be content enough to continue learning his trade with the Tangerines following his decision to increase his contract until May 2017, a wise decision on both his part and the club.
For Gauld it’s important he maintains his apprenticeship working on all aspects of his game in the rough and tumble of Scottish football, as opposed to chasing the big bucks and moving on where he could easily flounder in the obscurity of English football in a similar vein to the aforementioned Allan.
For United the move to tie him down was an easy one, the directors are fully are aware they have in their ranks a prized asset whom when the inevitable offers come in they can cash in on making the club financially secure in the long-term.
At a time when the game in Scotland is at a low ebb the breakthrough of Gauld has been a breath of fresh air reminding us of a time in the past when the ‘tanner ba’ wizardry of Jimmy Johnstone and Willie Henderson saw our nation punch above our weight both domestically and internationally.
Indeed followers of United appear to be enjoying a special period in their club’s recent history as alongside Gauld, the exciting play of the talented Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Andrew Robertson have been making the headlines as manager Jackie McNamara assembles a team capable of making a real dent in Celtic’s championship assault.
But it is in Gauld that all Arabs see a player who can become pivotal in taking them back to anywhere near the glory days they enjoyed when Jim Mclean’s side were in their pomp in the 1980’s.
However as with the likes of Andy Gray, Richard Gough, Duncan Ferguson and David Goodwillie (though he has yet to fulfil his potential and is now back at Tayside on loan), the United faithful should make the most of savouring the thrills of watching Gauld in a tangerine shirt as the odds of him celebrating his 19th diminishing with every breathtaking performance.