DUNDEE United are team-building in more ways than one.
The William Hill Scottish Cup finalists are also half-way to having an entry for University Challenge. After midfielder Stuart Armstrong disclosed recently that he is studying for a law degree, defender Mark Wilson yesterday admitted to some higher education of his own. Wilson is doing an Open University course to gain a history degree.
He was back in a classroom yesterday, too, being teased by teachers who had been around when he was at St Ambrose High School in Coatbridge. The school's under-18 team has reached the final of the pinnacle of the Scottish schools' season and play Springburn Academy in the Senior Shield final today.
The young captains, Josh McCormack and Logan McIntyre, were model pupils as they sat with Wilson at a publicity event for the game.
McCormack and McIntyre have something big ahead of them in football, literally. The shield one of them will lift, if he can, is massive. If they looked at Wilson with quiet envy that would have been only natural given the career he has carved for himself with United, Celtic, Bristol City, United again and Scotland. But Wilson looked at the boys with admiration, too, for committing to further education rather than leaving school early to pursue a professional football career.
As far as Wilson is concerned the two paths need not be mutually exclusive. "A lot of boys drop out of school too soon, they chase a dream that's not quite there," he said.
"I was fortunate that I dropped out of school when I was 16 and I went full-time. I was one of the lucky few that made something, made a career. But these guys who are staying in school longer, because they want to have an education behind them, are still as talented as the ones who drop out. They have their heads screwed on.
"Looking back now that I'm 29, approaching 30, I wish I would have done the same, but I was fortunate enough to make something of it at the time. Now I am doing a bit of part-time education myself and I wish I would have stayed on a bit longer when I was at school."
Wilson did not need a return to his former school to feel like an old head, he gets that every day at his work. Even a fellow in his late 20s can feel like a bit of a greybeard when surrounded by the likes of Andrew Robertson, 20, Ryan Gauld, 18, and John Souttar, still just 17. "These boys are so young. You look at Ryan Gauld and think 'jeezo, you could still be in school'.
"When you become a footballer you think your career is going to last forever. It's not quite the case. I'm doing the Open University in my spare time. Stuart Armstrong is doing a law degree, a bit different! But once he goes to the English Premier League he'll have enough cash to put his feet up when he finishes."