New Caley Thistle forward Alex Fisher believes the tutelage of former England manager Glenn Hoddle revived his career.
Fisher was released by Oxford United in 2009 and moved to Spain to join Hoddle’s Academy, which was created a year previously to help young players find a way back into football.
Fisher earned a contract with Spanish fourth-tier outfit Jerez Industrial in 2010 and went on to enjoy spells playing in Belgium and Italy before returning to England with Mansfield Town in 2014.
The 25-year-old was most recently with National League side Torquay United, but after leaving last month he signed a contract with Caley Jags until the end of the season in time to make his debut in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup.
Fisher’s decision to move to Hoddle’s Academy mirrored the path taken by Ikechi Anya, who has gone on to establish himself as a Scotland international and a regular for Watford in the Premier League.
And Fisher reckons moving abroad was the right decision and said: “After getting released by Oxford, who were a National League team, it was hard to get a contract. I had no help and I was a bit naive – I had no agent and was on my own.
“The move to the Academy came about through an exit trial. They had Graham Rix, Nigel Spackman, Dave Beasant working at the Academy and it was a great coaching team.
“That led to one contract abroad after another in Spain, Belgium, Italy and then back home.
“The Academy was designed to get players back into the game and it’s certainly done that.
“There are a few playing at a very high level – their flagship player was Ikechi Anya who left shortly after I arrived.
“Glenn was there a lot and I worked with him because he was an attacking player. I feel humbled to have met him and the way he spoke about the game, I wish I had that from eight or nine years old, rather than being 20 as he certainly knows what he’s talking about. I’ve learned to live away from home. I find that transition quite easy. I’ve learned different styles and cultures of football – Italy was a very slow-paced, technical and defensive style. I then went to League 2 and the National League in England where it’s very direct and physical. I’ve had a nice grounding and I feel like I’ve benefited.”
The decision to leave Torquay was only taken after hearing of Inverness’ interest, and after impressing manager John Hughes enough to earn a deal Fisher is relieved the gamble paid off.
He added: “Before I left Torquay my agent told me there’d been a long-standing interest from Inverness, dating back to the start of the year when I’d already signed. It was an opportunity I thought I had to grab. It was a gamble to leave a contract for a trial but it’s worked out. I’m very proud to have got this deal.
“We left on very good terms and I want to play at the highest level possible. It was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t turn down.”