You have probably never heard of him, but by the end of 2016, Kenny Dougall hopes to have played in the Rio Olympics, Dutch Eredivisie and for the Socceroos.
After a stuttering start to his fledgling career, the ex-Brisbane Roar youth player, 22, has emerged over the past six months as a future Australian star.
Dougall is currently a regular fixture in the Sparta Rotterdam side which is well clear in the race for promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie.
This week he signed a two-year contract extension with Sparta, sealing his future at the club until 2019.
He also earned a surprise call-up to the Olyroos in October and played both games for the full duration in last month’s camp, ahead of January’s crucial Rio qualifiers.
“For me, 2016 has the potential to be a very big year,” Dougall told FourFourTwo.
“To get promoted, the Olympics and possibly, if I do really well, then the Socceroos.
“But as a footballer you have dreams and goals, you just have to go game by game, the old clichés.”
Brisbane-born Dougall never quite made it at Roar, despite sharing the club’s Youth Player of the Year award as a teenager.
After a season in the Queensland NPL with Brisbane City, Dougall made his way to the Netherlands in 2014 to trial with second tier club Telstar.
He impressed enough to win a one-year deal, going on to become a regular and, with his new Dutch agent, seal a two-year contract with the ambitious Sparta.
“Telstar was good for me because I could break through and play 29 games,” he said.
“It was great exposure. Sparta is a big club. It was a good move for me.”
Dougall is a versatile player, comfortable in the centre of the park as both a defender and midfielder.
He’s also confident that if Sparta do earn promotion, he’ll handle himself in the highly regarded Eredivisie, where Socceroos such as Tomi Juric and Trent Sainsbury play regularly.
“I think the biggest step-up is that mistakes get punished, but I feel I can play at that level,” Dougall said.
“It might take a few games to adapt but I’ve watched it on TV and I’ve played a few sides in friendlies and cup matches, the level is obviously higher, but it’s not that big a step, so I can definitely make it.”
Promotion to the Eredivisie, where Sparta haven’t competed since relegation in 2010, would mean a crack at the Rotterdam derby against Dutch heavyweights Feyenoord.
Dougall has attended a handful of Feyenoord matches at the famous De Kuip Stadium and is dreaming of taking them on in a fierce derby.
“Feyenoord is a massive club obviously,” he said.
“Everyone wants to play for the big three in Holland, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord.
“Feyenoord dominate the papers here in Rotterdam, but there’s a lot of Sparta supporters as well. Feyenoord is the international club.”
Sparta, who are five points clear in Eerste Divisie, hosts eighth-placed MVV this weekend ahead of the Dutch winter break.comments