HOGAN ‘CAN BE THE NEW VARDY’
ROCHDALE boss Keith Hill has tipped top-scorer Scott Hogan to take League One by storm next season – and says the striker could be the next Jamie Vardy.
Hogan, 22, was plucked from Non-League Hyde last summer after three years jobbing around the part-time scene with Woodley Sports, Stocksbridge Park Steels and Ashton United.
Now he is attracting attention from scouts across the country after a stunning debut season which has seen him hit 17 goals to fire Dale to promotion.
Vardy, 27, also spent several years in non league – including three at Stocksbridge – but after a £1m move from Fleetwood to Leicester in 2012 is now a Premier League player. And for Hill, that should be Hogan’s aim too.
“I think Scott and Jamie are equally talented,” said Hill.“And if anything, he’s got an advantage over Vardy in respect of his age.
“He’s got a really bright future and he’s destined to play at a very high level. He’s got power, he’s got technique. He’s got something that’s uncoachable – that natural instinct in front of goal. He knows when to take players on, when to shoot, when to pass. And he’s got exceptional pace.
“I had Scott as an apprentice at Rochdale and it just didn’t suit him at the time. He wanted to spend time with his mates, enjoy being a young lad and play football just as a hobby.That’s why he dipped into non league.
“But I think he’s now realised what an exceptional talent he’s got and he’s making the most of it.
“We were very fortunate to recruit him and to retain him, which should give us a real headstart in League One next season. He’s found a great home at Rochdale and he’s only going to get better and better.”
Hill, 44, won promotion with Rochdale in 2010, subsequently guiding the club to its highest ever finish of ninth in League One the following year.
A move to Championship Barnsley proved less successful for both parties, with Hill sacked after 18 months and Rochdale suffering relegation back to League Two. And this time, Hill insists he will think longer and harder before ditching Spotland.
“I had to leave to become a better manager and I believe the experiences I had at Barnsley achieved that,” he says.
“I was grateful for the opportunity from Barnsley and I’m so glad I took it. But I’ll be more patient this time round.
“Arguably, you could say I wasn’t last time. I felt I’d taken the club as far as I possibly could. I looked at other managers who stayed too long at other clubs and never got the opportunity to manage higher. Now, I’m not in any type of rush.
“I’d never say never, but I’m very thankful to the fans and the board here for taking me back. I have ambitions for Rochdale and with this group of players I believe we’ll be a force in League One. And I’m happy here, there’s no question about that.”
ON THE UP: Rochdale Scott Hogan celebrates one of his many goals Below: Keith Hill and his squad after sealing promotion