Scott Hogan bounces back from two career-threatening injuries in bid to live up to Jamie Vardy comparison

Hogan has been heralded as the next Jamie Vardy, but two serious knee injuries and a stint away from football threatened to end his story before it began

Mark Ogden
Chief Football Correspondent
Wednesday 11 May 2016 15:49 BST
Brentford's Scott Hogan has been tipped to be the next Jamie Vardy
Brentford's Scott Hogan has been tipped to be the next Jamie Vardy (Getty)

Scott Hogan will be planning for a summer holiday with his girlfriend and the prospect of a phone call from Roy Keane when Jamie Vardy collects his Footballer of the Year award on Thursday evening, but there will also be the thought of what could be when his former FC Halifax team-mate receives the most prestigious individual honour in English football.

At 24, Hogan finds himself the subject of growing interest from the Premier League and leading Championship clubs after returning from two cruciate ligament injuries in the space of two years with seven goals in seven appearances for Brentford over the final weeks of the season.

Having already been compared to Vardy by Rochdale manager Keith Hill during his season-long spell at Spotland as a 21-year-old, Hogan’s CV, which also includes a year with the Stocksbridge Park Steels outfit which set Vardy on the road to stardom, has ensured that the Salford-born forward is now being billed as possessing the attributes to emulate the Leicester City and England striker.

But after walking away from the game as a teenager and finding himself working in a warehouse, Hogan insists he is happy to embrace the Vardy comparisons after beating two career-threatening injuries.

“I just don’t want to go back to a 9-5 job,” Hogan said. “I have done it before and I don’t want to do it again.

“I worked in warehouses, order picking, in a chemical factory – it got to the stage where I would try to fit in two half-hour toilet breaks just to break the day up!

“I never want to do it again, which is why I will always fight for everything I have got in football.

“The Jamie Vardy thing gets mentioned quite a lot when I am back home in the north-west, but down here at Brentford, nobody really knows about my background, so it doesn’t come up much.

Rochdale took me out of college and gave me £30 a week expenses, so I was on nothing really and my mates were beginning to work and earn money

&#13; <p>Scott Hogan</p>&#13;

“But I was at Stocksbridge and Halifax, two of Jamie’s former clubs, so I can see where it has come from. Jamie has had an unbelievable rise, though, and of course it is something that will inspire players like me.”

Having spent two years with Everton as a schoolboy, as well as three unsuccessful trials with Manchester United, disillusionment with the game led Hogan to walk away from Rochdale as a teenager before Hill took him back to the club following his part-time exploits with Stocksbridge, Halifax and Hyde United.

But he admits that playing alongside Vardy at Halifax restored his love for the game.

“Rochdale took me out of college and gave me £30 a week expenses, so I was on nothing really and my mates were beginning to work and earn money, so I lost my concentration quite a bit,” Hogan said.

“Keith Hill told me I had to come back in the summer and prove I was fit before I could earn a contract, but I didn’t go back. I just stayed away because it wasn't viable financially.

“I just didn’t really play for a while, but ended up playing part-time for £100 or £150 a week, just to play, at Halifax, Stocksbridge and Hyde.

“I was with Vards at Halifax and you knew at that stage that he was miles better than anything else at that level.

“You never imagined that he would go on to win the title, play for England and be Footballer of the Year, but I remember a pre-season game against Scunthorpe, who were in League One at the time, and he played left wing and tore their right-back to bits.

“By the end, the right-back was trying all sorts to stop him, but playing in non-league toughens you up and Jamie knew how to deal with it.

“He went to Fleetwood, did well again and he has just gone higher and higher, but I think even he would admit he has gone higher than he ever imagined.

“When I was at Rochdale the second time around, Vards was in the Championship with Leicester and he scored a lot of goals to help them get up.

“I remember Keith saying to me – and he may just have been trying to get the best out of me – that I was better than Vardy because I could play in different positions.

“But although I am probably ahead of Jamie at the age of 24, you can’t deny that he has taken himself to a whole new level.”

He is quick, but like a cross-country runner – he reminds me of Gareth Bale because they can both run all day long

&#13; <p>Scott Hogan</p>&#13;

Hogan insists, however, that Vardy’s grounding in non-league has made him the player that he has become.

“Jamie never gets pushed off the ball or bullied,” he said. “Maybe he has some of the dark arts, but that has seen him through the lower leagues.

“He doesn’t give up and doesn’t get fazed by anything, but I don’t think people realise how strong he is.

“He is quick, but like a cross-country runner – he reminds me of Gareth Bale because they can both run all day long.

“You never see him in a game where the moment looks to have got the better of him. It is incredible, but he just never gives up and it is brilliant to see where he has ended up.”

After eighteen months on the sidelines, however, Hogan is aiming to justify the Vardy comparisons with Brentford, who have stood by him during his double injury lay-offs and enabled him to catch the eye of Republic of Ireland assistant manager Keane.

“Brentford offered me an extra year when I first did my knee, to make up for the year I had lost,” he said. “They have looked after me, sent me to Philadelphia twice for treatment and paid for me to go away. I haven’t had to use my own money, so I do feel a big debt to them.

“Since I came back, I have scored seven in seven appearances, but only started two games in that time.

“Then there is the Ireland thing, which again is a surprise. Roy Keane was at Huddersfield on Saturday apparently and if Roy Keane rang me up, I couldn’t say no to Roy Keane. He is one of my heroes."

For now, though, Hogan is content to watch Vardy attempt to inspire England to success in France, but his own story may yet follow a similar path.

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