UCFB student Riccardo Polacco has spent the last 18 months scouting the youth of London for Premier League side Southampton. Here, the BA (Hons) International Football Business student tells us how he got the role, what he’s learnt and how he’s used the opportunity to continue networking in the football industry…

I started the job during my first year at UCFB after then third year student Samuel Cardenas announced he was going to be leaving the UK after he graduated to go back to Germany and work for FC Schalke 04 as a video analyst. After a few months of scouting for him, where I covered as many grassroots matches as possible by travelling around north-west London and sending back reports, he recommended me to the club. Now my role is as a youth scout in the London area, focusing on players aged 11-16.

I would say that commitment, passion for talent identification and my short playing career at semi-professional level were elements that drove me to get into scouting. Scouting is not as easy or as glamorous a job as it might seem from outside. It requires effort, patience and positivity. These are skills that I think are needed to progress in this role.

After almost two years working for Southampton, I can say that this great opportunity has given me the chance to learn about how to operate in a professional scouting environment, where everything and everyone has got their role and has to be respected. I constantly try to take advantage of the opportunities at general assessment meetings to speak with more experienced scouts, who have discovered players like Gareth Bale and Adam Lallana, in order to gain advice on how to improve on the technical aspects of scouting including observation and talent identification.

I’m always trying to learn as much as possible from everyone at the club, not just from scouts, because this helps build my network at Southampton and within the game. I’m looking forward to the start of the new season with the Saints and always looking for any potential opportunities that might come my way in the future, not necessarily only in scouting.