It’s the club where former Celtic and Socceroos striker Scott McDonald launched his career, and now Sydney youngster Matty Macarthur is following suit at Southampton.
Renowned for a youth development program which also produced the likes of Matt Le Tissier, Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, the Saints‘ academy is home to aspiring Trent Alexander-Arnold clone Macarthur.
The 15-year-old former Western Sydney Wanderers junior has already been earmarked by Joeys coach Trevor Morgan as a potential inductee for the next FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign.
And he’s got Young Socceroos midfielder Caleb Watts for company at St Mary’s as he plots his own career path at the Premier League club.
Having previously trialled at Tottenham, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, the budding right-back didn’t hesitate when the offer to join the Saints came along eight months back.
“Southampton is a great club with a culture of producing young players and a fantastic environment to be in,” Macarthur told The World Game.
“It was a great choice for me because everybody knows how good their academy is.
“I think I can really develop here. My good points are my speed, decision-making and technical ability when it comes to short, fast play.
“But there are a lot of things I can improve on like trying to get more assists, crossing and beating my man one-on-one.”
Having played as a midfielder during his time with Western Sydney’s youth setup, Macarthur - who holds both Australian and British passports - has evolved into an attack-minded right-back on the south coast, with Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold his new idol.
“Wayne Rooney was my football hero growing up but now it’s more about the position I play and it has to be Trent Alexander-Arnold,” Macarthur explained.
“I love the way he gets forward so much and is such an exciting player.
“It’s my dream to play in the Premier League with those sorts of players one day and to represent my country at some point.”
Being an Australian in an environment brimming with homegrown youngsters chasing their dreams isn’t an easy proposition.
“It’s a case of proving yourself technically, mentally and physically and, as an Australian, when you go in there you have to be up to the standard, if not better,” Macarthur added.
“You have to show people over here that you want it more than the other kids.”
Macarthur, who hopes to land a long-term scholarship contract later this year, was visited by Morgan during his scouting mission to England in February.
He was in line for a Europe-based development and identification camp before COVID-19 intervened.
“I had a few chats with Trevor and hopefully I’ll be selected in the upcoming months, or whenever the next camp is,” the teenager said.
“I’ll do everything I can to get picked for the next U-17 World Cup in 2021.”
Macarthur counts former Socceroo turned UK-based scout Mark Robertson as a mentor.
Robertson, whose son Alexander is a rising rookie at Manchester City, said: “He reminds me a bit of Brett Emerton at that age.
“He’s up and down the field and is a very professional youngster, who’s highly thought of there.
“He’s played against the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea and was good in both games.
“I think he’ll do well - he has the right attitude and the rest of the stuff can be taught.”