The Rise of Liam Scales – From Barndarrig to Rotterdam

The story of Liam Scales’ footballing career is one for the football enthusiasts. Beginning his career at Arklow Town in Wicklow, Scales would sign for the League of Ireland’s ‘feeder club’ University College Dublin in 2015.While also studying Irish and Geography in Dublin 4, Liam was beginning to make a name for himself on the pitch.

IMAGO / Shutterstock Photo by Kirk O Rourke/Shutterstock – Liam Scales of Celtic during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox on 03 September 2023

For Scales’ generation, the Wicklow man took the less travelled down route to professional football. While much of the Irish footballing class of 98’ left for academies in England, Liam decided to pursue an education and progress through the Irish footballing pyramid, a brave decision at a time where only those who had not been deemed good enough by English clubs remained at home.

Collingwood cup success (Irish university football competition for the whole island) and a League of Ireland First Division title with UCD in 2018 resulted in Scales being named in the PFAI First Division Team of the Year.

IMAGO / Shutterstock Photo by Kirk O Rourke/Shutterstock Liam Scales of Celtic clears from Cyriel Dessers of theRangers during the Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox on 03 September 2023

A move to Irish kingpins Shamrock Rovers shortly followed. Just two seasons at the highest level in Irish football was required to attract significant interest from elsewhere. After being a key part of Rovers successful league winning side and featuring seven times in European competition for the Irish Hoops, Scales would swap Dublin for Glasgow in the summer of 2021.

Arriving for £500k  in a summer of change for new manager Ange Postecoglou, fan reaction was mixed.
Many felt recruiting from the Irish top division was not what was required to topple theRangers. The Irishman would feature sparingly in Postecoglou’s first season at the club, with the bulk of his appearances coming in the first six months of the campaign amid a baron squad. Albeit traditionally a centre-half, the 25-year-old ultimately found much of his game time under the Aussie to be on the left side of the defence.

A poor performance in such a position in Celtic’s 2-0 away defeat to Bodo Glmnt in the UEFA Conference League last 32 singlehandedly ended his career under Ange and in the eyes of much of the Celtic fanbase.

Photo by Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock. Celtic’s on loan defender Liam Scales scores for Aberdeen and celebrates with team mates after his long range looping effort beat theRangers veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor to give Aberdeen a 1-0 lead. Aberdeen v theRangers, Cinch Scottish Premiership, Pittodrie. Aberdeen won the match 2-0.

A loan move to Pittodrie followed and in a mixed campaign for Aberdeen, Scales helped the Dons record a third-place finish. Operating at left centre half instead of at full back certainly helped the former Irish u21 international’s performances as he enjoyed a successful campaign of consistent first team football.

Now climatised to the Scottish game, Scales would return to Celtic Park with high hopes of impressing the incoming Brendan Rodgers, a hope that was not shared by the majority of the Celtic fanbase.

One major centre-half injury crisis later and Liam Scales finds himself excelling week on week in front of the same Celtic support who had largely written him off as a Celtic player. The possibility of the Barndarrig native starting at Ibrox all those weeks ago was met with fear and anger. Those feelings would turn to joy and delight as he delivered a Man of the Match performance in his side’s 1-0 victory over theRangers.

Although it is widely expected that Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki will return to the starting eleven once fit, the illusion that Liam Scales is a bad footballer thankfully seems to be over. Not the perfect player by any means, but certainly a player who can be an important part of Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

The message is clear, you write Liam Scales off at your peril.

James French

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