Craig Slater

Vital Statistics

Nickname: Slates

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: April 26th 1994

Birth Place: Glasgow, Scotland

Height: 1.78m

Previous Clubs: St Mirren Youth, Kilmarnock Youth.

Killie Contract: June 1st 2012 (4 Year Deal)

Left Killie: May 23rd 2016

International: 4 Appearances for Scotland U16's. 10 Appearances for Scotland U17's (1 Goal). 1 Appearance for Scotland U19's. 5 Appearances for Scotland U21's.

Landmarks: Debuted on December 29th 2012 as a 83rd minute substitute away to Motherwell in a 2-2 SPL draw. First Killie start was May 15th 2013 against Hibernian in the SPL at Rugby Park. Won the SPFL Young Player of the Month award for January 2014. First Killie goal was an injury time winner in a 1-2 SPL win at Motherwell on March 29th 2014. Left the club in 2016 at the expiration of his deal.

Twitter: @craigslaterr

 

Quotes

May 23rd 2016: 

January 8th 2014: “I left school at 16 and signed full-time with St Mirren. I had a two-year contract but I didn’t enjoy it at all. Going into training every day just wasn’t enjoyable any more and I felt as if I wasn’t going anywhere with the club. Near the end of my deal, I actually asked to go. I wanted them to cancel it so I could get out of there and try somewhere else. It wasn’t working out at St Mirren so I had to try something different. I felt I wouldn’t be given an opportunity there to progress and play in the first team. There were others ahead of me in the pecking order and I wasn’t getting any reward for playing well. I was given no recognition despite the fact I was playing well and being selected for Scotland’s Under-17s. At St Mirren there didn’t seem to be any reward in sight. Maybe I had just been at the club too long because I had been playing for St Mirren since I was five or six. They were the only team I’d ever played for. Eventually, they were happy for me to go. They knew how strongly I felt about the situation. I had a few months of training with different clubs, without getting a wage. I was in at Rangers for a while, training at Murray Park, but the club obviously suffered financial problems and I ended up at Kilmarnock. That period was a worry for me because I was in a bit of a limbo and didn’t really know where my career was going. Since I’d left school, I’d had the security of a contract. But all of a sudden I didn’t have that. Thankfully, I had enough confidence in my ability that I always felt I’d get in somewhere. I knew if I kept working hard someone would give me an opportunity and I got that at Killie. As soon as I got here, it was brilliant. I’m from Silverburn so I’m 20 minutes away on the M77. From the first day, the youth coach Alan Robertson was great with me. He gave me motivation and encouragement. He made football fun again for me. Kenny Shiels was also really good with me coming through and gave me my chance in the first team. I made my debut under him last season and I’ve enjoyed it since the moment I got here. After being at St Mirren for so long, I probably just needed to hear a few different voices. I’ve probably surprised myself by playing nine games on the trot and staying in the side. We have a lot of quality players at Kilmarnock, especially in midfield with the likes of Barry Nicholson and Sammy Clingan who are both internationals. But I feel I’ve done well and that’s why I’ve stayed in the team. To play full games in the Premiership has been great for my development. I’ll become a better player with more experience and I want to become established. Hopefully I can play my part in helping Killie move further up the table. We’ve got a good dressing room and the experienced boys have helped me a lot. People like James Fowler, Barry and big Boydie are always giving you wee tips. They’ve played at the highest level and know what it takes. Big Boydie likes a moan, especially in training. He demands high standards and you don’t want to be on the receiving end when he’s not happy. If you’re in his team, you’re in for a torrid time if you give the ball away.”

February 21st 2014: “I had been hoping to get myself established in the Kilmarnock first team this season and hopefully I have done that now. I wanted to try and get some games under my belt and held the team do well and get some wins. It has worked out pretty well and we managed to get a few wins together and I have picked up this award which is fantastic. When you are coming in to the first team you are simply just trying to take your chance and make an impact. This is my most consistent run of games and it is nice that people have been complimentary about my performances. I know that I will have to work hard and keep my level of performances high. Getting this award is terrific and hopefully my good form will continue. The manager Allan Johnston has been great with me. He has told me to be confident and play my own game. Afterwards he will give me a few pointers as well. Other players have been good and they have kept me working hard and keeping my feet on the ground. Everyone has kept me on my toes and it is terrific that the manger has kept me in the team and I want to repay him with good performances. I was influenced by Steven Gerrard a lot and I enjoyed watched him when I was younger.  I tried to base my game on him and the way that he would dominate games in the Premiership. Gerrard’s pass against Fulham last week was a terrific one – a great pass and a great player. Closer to home I watched Barry Ferguson a lot at Rangers. He had fantastic composure on the ball and I play with my head up as he does but that is how I have developed as opposed to deliberately copying anyone. You need awareness and Barry had that as does Darren Fletcher. It is good to be compared in that way. I enjoy working with Alexei Eremenko. Everyone has had a lift since he came in as his technique on the ball is second to none. He does things on the ball that are unbelievable and he has been a real boost to the team. It is great to work alongside him. He is getting fitter all the time. Earlier in the season the manager was just in the door and he brought a few new players in with him. Maybe some of the younger boys did not play then but he was still watching our training and giving us encouragement. He was telling us that there was chance to progress to the first team. A few other boys and myself worked hard and we got that chance. Even when we were not playing the manager was motivating us to get into the team. [On Johnston saying that CS was ahead of Gabriel Reuben in the queue] That was brilliant to hear as he is the one you have to impress. Keeping my place ahead of some experienced players has been terrific for me and hopefully I can continue to do that. A few of the younger boys have been given a chance by the manager and that is very encouraging for all the young players at the club. When the boys found out I was coming for this award [SPFL Young Player of the Month] I was getting pelters for it. Kris Boyd and Michael Gardyne were handing out the laughs. They don’t let you get carried away. Craig Samson was at St. Mirren with me before and he is another one that gives you plenty of banter. I was pleased when he came to Kilmarnock as he is a real character about the dressing room. It is nice to hear that he has been saying good things about me as well as giving me stick. It has been brilliant to have played as much as I have and hopefully I can stay in the team for the rest of the season. There have been a few of us coming through at the same time and that helps. You don’t view it as that much of a step up if you are playing with players you know from the under-20’s. The experienced players have been great with us so there is a great blend. I am pleased with my own form and I would like to say I have done well myself but this has been an effort from all the players at Kilmarnock. Our next aim is to move up the table a bit. Basically I asked to leave St. Mirren with a year left of my contract, they were quite happy to terminate my contract as well. I had a short spell training at Rangers and that never worked out either. Obviously it is a worry when you leave and are not contracted anywhere else. It can be hard to get a foot in the door but I was still confident in my own ability and that if I got into places to train I would impress. I came in to Kilmarnock and Allan Robertson gave me a chance. I am really enjoying my football there. I was sure that if I worked hard I would be okay but there is a slight nagging doubt at the back of your mind. Thankfully things have worked out for me. It was a bold move to make just before Christmas and it was only 6 month contracts being offered out to players. I had to be confident that I could do a job on the pitch and thankfully that has turned out to be the case.”

March 7th 2014: "At that time I just tried to concentrate on working hard and believing in my own game. I felt that if I did that my chance would come. There were so many players out of contract at the time I left St Mirren and it was a hard time for me. But I believed in my own ability and knew I could show what I can do if I got my chance. So coming to Kilmarnock and getting my opportunity in the first-team was the best thing that could have happened to me. The manager has been brilliant with me and given me my chance. I have stayed in the team and now I have managed to make that breakthrough into the Under-21s with the national set-up. It was my first call-up to the 21s and it was great to test myself against really good opposition. Hopefully if I keep doing well with Kilmarnock, then there will be many more. It's brilliant to get the recognition by Billy Stark. It's a nice wee boost for my confidence. It's all happened so quick. But I am enjoying myself and playing with confidence. If you are doing that then you are going to show your best form. We have not played too bad recently but just haven't had the wee breaks go our way. It's really tight at the bottom but if we continue to play the way we have been, we can definitely move up the table and avoid the play-off spot."

January 4th 2015: "It's a big blow to miss out against Celtic on Monday. Those are the games you want to play in. I would loved to have been out there helping the team because it will be a hard game. Whoever takes my place, I wish them all the best because the team will need to play as well as they can. If I end up missing out because somebody else does well then I will just have to deal with it. I was out of the team for a while earlier in the season but fought my way back in. If I have to do that again, I will."

March 13th 2015: "They [St Mirren] are fighting for their lives as is every team that is down round there. But we have to look up to the top six and we need to win as many games as we can. We all wanted the three points on Saturday and thought that we could get them, but obviously the sending off before half-time and the goal changed things. This week at home we need to go for the three points and there is no reason why we can't get them. At this time of the year the pitches aren't great. It is all about not getting beat and trying to win as many games as we can. But a draw is better than a defeat and it breeds confidence in the squad, and there is no reason why we can't kick on."

 

18: Lee Ashcroft | 20: Dale Carrick


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