THE football scout who spotted the potential of new Blades’ recruit Will Hoskins says he knew within 20 minutes that “he’d got it” and could make a player.
Pat Meechan was part of Rotherham United’s youth scouting set-up when he saw Hoskins, then 13, playing in a schoolboy game near Retford.
“I’ll never forget that game because it’s the first time I’d seen a kid where I knew, after 20 minutes, that he was the one,” said Pat.
“He was 13 but had confidence and power and he struck a shot from 25 yards which was still rising when it hit the net - and that was quite something at that age.”
Pat said he knew there and then this was a young player he had to pursue and he did.
Hoskins wasn’t with a club at the time having left Notts County’s School of Excellence.
He’d been there since he was eight but had been on much wider view during that time.
When he was 12 he was chosen as a representative from England at the 1998 World Cup in France when he joined others in showing off his skills in the Stade de France.
Rotherham United had competition from other clubs including Derby County, where he spent a week, and Forest.
“When he agreed to come up to Rotherham to have a look around, I told them to really sell the club to him and look after him,” said Pat. “Ronnie Moore (manager at the time) spent some time with him and the outcome was that Will chose Rotherham ahead of some other clubs.”
Rotherham had to pay Notts County compensation - so the Hoskins signature cost them the princely sum of £1,000.
Pat, from Worksop, always contended that he happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Hoskins, showcasing his skill and talent in the juniors and reserves, went on to make an instant impact when he got his chance at 17 in Rotherham’s first team.
He scored twice, as a sub, to secure a 2-1 win at Wigan on Boxing Day 2003 in what was effectively his debut (he’d played for just 30 seconds previously) and he was to eventually go on and be watched by many clubs before a move, with current Blades colleague Lee Williamson, to Watford in a £1.2 million deal in 2007.