ALL things considered, Dean Gorre was entitled to feel rather underwhelmed when he first set eyes on the selection of Scottish teenagers he would be required to work with.

The 42-year-old former midfielder was recruited personally by Johan Cruyff to his previous role as part of a dream team of old boys – including Ronald de Boer, Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp – tasked with revitalising the Ajax academy.

But not a bit of it. Regardless of the travails of Craig Levein's senior Scotland team, Gorre has been hugely impressed by the under-17 squad, of which he was appointed coach in February. The former Feyenoord, Ajax and Huddersfield Town player, who was born in the former Dutch colony of Suriname in South America but moved to the Netherlands, leads his team into European Championship qualifying in Georgia at the end of the month and he hopes they can provide further evidence that reports of Scotland's demise as a footballing nation are greatly exaggerated.

"I am more than happy," Gorre said. "When I started with Scotland I didn't know what to expect. But as soon as I saw the motivation of the boys and the talent they have, it was a big surprise for me. I think they have a lot to offer, especially when you see someone like Jack Harper, who plays Real Madrid and scores every week. Last week he scored a hat-trick, this week he scored two – hardly a match goes by where he doesn't score.'

The Scots face Luxembourg on October 30, Ukraine on November 1 and Georgia on November 4. Gorre said: "I have high hopes for this group in this campaign and am very confident. We have a group of around 18 players at a good level who can compete. Beyond that it is quite hard because it is not like you have as many players to choose from in, say, England, but there is good quality."

If even a little bit of magic dust has rubbed off on Gorre, Scotland's footballing future is in safe hands. The archetypal Dutch No.10 came through the ranks at SVV in Rotterdam– he was 12 when Wotte, now the Scottish Football Association's performance director, was a first-team member – before brushing shoulders with the game's superstars as he carved out his reputation with the country's big clubs.

First it was Feyenoord, where he won a title, worked with Wim Jansen and struck up a friendship with a young Henrik Larsson. "Henrik is a little bit younger than I am, so I looked after him when he came to Holland," said Gorre. "I am from Rotterdam so I showed him around and we became good friends."

After graduating in Groningen, it was on to Louis van Gaal's Ajax, although the illustrious Dutch coach moved on to Barcelona within months of him arriving. "I had two good years at Ajax and when you are at Ajax you are playing alongside 16 and 17-year-olds who are making their first-team debuts," Gorre said. "At the time it was Rafael van der Vaart and Andy van der Meyde. Then there was Christian Chivu, Maxwell . . . and soon after I left it was the turn of Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong."

From there, Gorre's mercurial talents would be exhibited in the rather more mundane surroundings of Huddersfield and Barnsley. He has been in the UK for 13 years now and during that time has become convinced British football has to assume a more continental style. "The biggest thing that has to change is the mindset and the mentality of the people in academy and grass-roots football," Gorre said. "That mindset is still thinking about winning rather than developing. But you know the one thing players have here that they don't have in Holland? In Holland they have technique and knowledge about the game, but might not have that drive or work rate, things I don't even have to ask for with Scottish players."

Youth development clearly begins at home for Gorre, who divides his time between Glasgow and the family home in Manchester, where his teenage son Kenji is a promising second-year scholar at Manchester United and youngest son Aidan, eight, has also been recruited by the Old Trafford side as part of their talent identification programme.

The Ferguson connection came about following a meeting between Southampton and United in the FA Youth Cup. "[Sir Alex] said come in whenever you want," Gorre said. "So I did every session from the pre-season until the last game of the season."

Helping youngsters on the road to football stardom would seem to be Gorre's calling. His time at Southampton came to an end with relegation following a 10-point administration penalty, while, as a manager, he helped RBC Roosendal escape relegation but not their financial difficulties.

"I am happy to be part of it, you know," he said. "I love this kind of challenge, to help impose a different philosophy on a country and try to bring something new to the table. It would be great if I could look back maybe eight to 10 years from now and say what a big change it was and that we are reaping the fruits of it."