Former Manchester United youngster Febian Brandy is doing his bit to help the young talent of tomorrow – and make it easier for football clubs and scouts.
Spotted playing for his local team West End Boys, Brandy joined United at eight years of his age and played alongside the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi, Fabio and Rafael da Silva and Tom Cleverley.
Fast forward to the present day and Brandy, 32, is busy running Skouted, a revolutionary football app the former forward has set up to give someone that second chance in the professional game.
There are between 8,000 and 10,000 users globally across 82 countries, countless players going on trial in the UK and abroad, while Brandy has even been in discussions with the Johan Cruyff institute in Barcelona in regards to a working relationship.
“There are a few people working with me but it’s more like a one-man band at the moment so I need to be on point with everything,” Brandy told SPORTbible.
“My sleep pattern is a bit crazy. It’s literally from morning to night really, responding to players, scouts and to parents. It takes up a lot of my time but it’s worth it.
“Clubs like it, players like it and parents like it. It’s beneficial for everyone and beneficial for the clubs because it’s cost-effective.
“Let’s say if a scout is travelling from Manchester to Scotland to look at one player, they can probably look at 300 players in the journey time on the Skouted app.
“Players are kind of putting themselves in the shop-window 24/7. It’s still not where I want it to be but everywhere has to start from somewhere.”
Skouted has been viewed as the footballing version of LinkedIn, the popular employment website. And the concepts are incredibly similar.
Using the app, players from as young as three (parental guidance required for anyone under the age of 18) are able to upload video footage of them playing and get selected for Skouted trial events.
Scouts are also on there, browsing to see a whole array of different players. Brandy and his team have split it 50-0 so that scouts can request what players they wish to see in action, as well as the players having the chance to apply.
One player at university in England was flown out to Finland and offered a contract, while another went to the Philippines.
But Skouted’s biggest success story so far is the engineering a move to Salford City for 18-year-old Ollie Fannon, who has signed a professional contract.
Brandy felt like a “proud Dad” seeing Ollie get his opportunity after experiencing rejection.
“Ollie started at Man City when he was 13 and he left when he was like 14. He played at Partington Village from the age of 15 or 16 up until 18. He was on the app and he heard about the trials.
“I think he came twice. He played well at one trial but the scouts wanted to see him again. He had quite a few teams asking about him – West Brom, Swansea and Burton.
“But obviously he’s a local lad and Salford City is around the corner from him – I think he walks to training – that’s how close he is!
“They really liked him and ended up signing him.”
Gary Neville, co-owner at Salford City, has been a big supporter of Brandy’s project and there’s potential for linking up with companies in America and Mexico for Skouted.
It started as ‘Skouted UK’ but already they’ve had to change the name because of the global appeal.
For Brandy, the surface has not even been scratched yet.
“It’s a project where, if I’m being honest, there is no end goal. I think it’s just one of these scenarios where it just keeps growing and growing.
“We’ve started it in football because I know football like the back of my hand but we’re going to go into rugby, tennis and basketball.
“I few of my friends who play in the NFL, there’s a few people I know in the boxing world. There’s talent in everything. We’re even going to go into music.
“There’s a lot of people who see my vision and are going to get behind it.”
Brandy, who has represented a total of 14 clubs and played in Thailand and Greece, hasn’t officially hung his boots.
He had offers to train with clubs in pre-season with a view of signing by Skouted is his main primary focus.
“I started at Man United when I was 8 and left in the Sir Alex Ferguson era. I was quite fortunate to be there a long time but there were a lot of players who might not have been good enough to play for United but they might have been good enough for a lesser team.
“But their parent or guardian didn’t have the connections to get them into that team and they might fall out of love with football.
“This was happening year after year. When I was around 28, I thought I need to create a platform so players can stay in the shop window and stay in love with football.
“In my career I’ve had scenarios where football clubs say they need to see some video footage and I might not have had it. It kind of makes it harder.
“Skouted, it doesn’t say a club will sign a player from seeing a little clip, but it just gives the club a little indication of what type of player they are going to be getting.
“I know for a fact a club won’t sign a player just from looking at them on the app. The player might have a bad attitude and the club can bring them in to see them on a personal level.”
Skouted held a huge trial event at St George’s Park featuring the best talent from Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff.
Their next, the final one of the year, will take place at Platt Lane in Manchester on December 4 and 5.
Normally there are 44 players to make up four teams of 11, with 20 scouts ranging from Premier League to Non-League in attendance.
“You’re going to get some players up there and players down there but I think the best thing is to give everyone a fair crack of the whip.
“Some players may get scouted by teams at the elite level and some might get scouted at non-league level. It’s kind of just open for everyone really – clubs and players of all levels.
“For me to give them a platform to succeed or put a foot on the ladder, it does make me feel good.”
With the business now self-sufficient, Brandy is hoping to have a world tour of sorts next year, bringing Skouted to Ireland, the Netherlands and finishing up in Spain or Italy.