The young Australian impressing Will Still at Reims

Mohamed Toure

WATCH Reims in Ligue 1 LIVE on beIN SPORTS | Foxtel, Kayo, Fetch & CONNECT

Toure - with three goals in his last two games for Reims’s second team - has a front row seat to one of pro football’s most unlikely stories as it unfolds in real time.

Within three months of the 18 year-old decamping from the A-League and Adelaide United to northern France, Reims had appointed as caretaker coach unproven Will Still, an English-Belgian dual citizen who famously spent countless hours honing his coaching skills playing the video game Football Manager as he dreamed a cracking a real life role.

At just 30, Still is the youngest head coach in any of Europe’s top five leagues - and each time he takes to the touchline on match days Reims must pay a $37,000 fine because he currently lacks a UEFA Pro Licence.

Why does club president Jean-Pierre Caillot keep opening his wallet? Simple, Reims has lost just one game in 17 since Still took the top job, holding mighty Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-1 draw at Parc Les Princes one of the highlights to date.

A beguiled Toure has already captured the attention of Still, who watched in person as the whirlwind-quick striker netted a double in a 3-2 victory over Haguenau last week.

Afterwards, Still promptly pulled aside the Guinea-born, Australian-raised rookie for a few words of affirmation.

“He comes and watches our games (Reims II competes in France’s fourth tier) when he can,” explained Toure. “And he was there when I scored those goals.

"After the game he said ‘well done’. He talks and encourages you. When he told me that it was a big positive push for me. It was a really good feeling.

“We have spoken a bit - he’s a very good guy. He’s great with his players and is always smiling.”

Still quit lower league football as a teenager to focus on becoming a tactician. There were ultimately a couple of short-lived head coaching roles in Belgium at Lierse, which went bust, and then Beerschot.

The door opened again when he was appointed assistant to Oscar Garcia at Reims and then, remarkably, handed the baton as the Spaniard’s interim successor when he was sacked in October.

The atmosphere inside one of France’s most vaunted and textured clubs, where past glories have been superseded by leaner times, is bright and breezy under Still, according to Toure, with a “never say die” attitude pervading the mindset of his players.

“The boss has built a fantastic spirit and mentally - we recognise that we’re not a Paris Saint-German or a Marseille, but we’re just going game by game, picking up points,” Toure said.

“I’ve never had a coach that young - it’s a bit weird but he’s a really good guy and the fans and the town are right behind the team (which sits in mid table).”

Just how prominently Toure will ultimately feature in this French fairytale in the making is uncertain, since he’s only recently put behind him several niggling setbacks off the back of shoulder surgery.

However, he’s managed four goals in eight games and is targeting a senior squad breakthrough in the coming months.

“I arrived after having surgery - and having been off for so long it took me a while to get going again towards top fitness,” Toure said. “Every time I came back I broke down again with little niggles, but things are better now and I’m getting my sharpness back. I’m feeling like my old self again.

“The level I’m at right right now with the second team, the A-League is still a better league because you’re playing senior football in a really competitive competition.

“Here there are a few good players - but things are a bit more chilled and it’s about player development.

“Now that I’ve got some games and consistency behind me, I think I’m slowly getting ready to be able to make that breakthrough into the first team squad.

“That’s the plan the club have been talking about - once I’m playing regularly and scoring goals, which is what I’m doing now.

“I always think about playing against teams like PSG, who we’ve already played twice, but we still have (second placed) Marseillle at home and that’s a big motivation, to maybe make my debut against them. Or any team, to be honest.

“I really want to show people from Australia that you can come here and play against Mbappi and Messi, that it’s not impossible.

“I think the league would suit my style - our main striker now Falorin Balogun (on loan from Arsenal) is the league’s joint top scorer (with 15 goals) and his style isn’t that different to mine, playing up top with his forward runs and the way he uses his body well.

“I always look up to that and think maybe I can (one day) do the same.”

Uncapped by Australia at any level, Toure has the option to also play for Guinea, the west African nation his family fled to from war ravaged Liberia before emigrating to Australia as refugees.

“Guinea is my country as well as Australia. I was born there but I love Australia also, so whatever comes first really,” he said.

“Sometimes one coach might not see something in you that another does, so I don’t just rely on Australia, even though I love Australia.

“If I start to play first team and Guinea were to call me to help them qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations then I’d be more than happy to represent them.

“I’ve had a few calls from them but I’m focusing on my club first. There has been contact from Australia also (at U-20 level) to join a few camps but I was injured at the time. It’s pretty cool to be able to represent two countries.”