Graeme High’s former pupils include a Liverpool Champions League winner, a Celtic youth and a Falkirk first-team star.
But Atletico Madrid might soon be added to that illustrious list after a 12-year-old goalkeeper from the Scottish FA’s performance school training with the La Liga giants this week.
It’s a Roy of the Rovers tale for Joshua Rae, who plays for Hamilton Accies’ under-15 team and is in the Scotland under-14 regional squad.
He played for the club’s youth team at a tournament in Glasgow last month and was at Vicente Calderon this week for the second week of a fortnight’s trial - and all from a holiday park kickabout.
In Benidorm earlier this year, Joshua and his dad were kicking a ball about in a local park. Two Jordanians approached them and explained that a team from Jordan who were taking part in an under 14s tournament in the resort were short of a goalkeeper and offered Joshua the post.
The 6ft 1in pupil played six games for the under 14s and two for the under 17s. In the final under-14s game Joshua scored two goals, one from a kick the length of the park and the other a free-kick. The match went to penalties and Joshua saved three then scored the winning spot-kick.
After the match an Atletico Madrid scout asked Joshua if he was interested in going to the Spanish capital for a trial at the Vicente Calderon. He also explained that Elite Madrid would be coming to Scotland to take part in the Glasgow Cup in August and asked Joshua to play in the tournament. Madrid defeated Celtic Boys’ Club on the way to the final where they met Airdrie Pro Youth, drawing 0-0 then winning the Cup 3-2 on penalties - Joshua again coming to the fore and saving the vital penalty.
The Croy youngster also scored two goals in the tournament from free-kicks.
Joshua and dad Robert have travelled to Madrid for two weeks of training, and with the blessing of Graeme High’s performance coach Ian Ross.
“It isn’t through luck Josh has been invited over - it’s through his hard work,” he told The Falkirk Herald. “He plays at a higher age-group with us, and at his club, Hamilton Academical and deserves the chance.
“It is good fortune that he was in the right place and at the right time, and there’s no doubt the chance is deserved. From what we have heard, he has done well out there.”
Graeme High has been home to many footballers over the years, including Scotland, Liverpool and Celtic defender Gary Gillespie, Celtic youth forward Paul McMullan and current Falkirk duo Robbie McNab and Craig Sibbald.