The Stoke City defender never groaned through a year of injury because he knew it was nothing compared to what his brave older brother Aaron was going through.
Harry Souttar will play for Australia against France at the World Cup today proud of the badge on his chest and the tattoo on his arm.
He grew up in Luthermuir and played for Scotland as a youth international but is very honored to play at a senior level for Australia, for whom he qualifies through his mother Heather.
And on his left arm he has a picture of his brother Aaron, a talented golfer who died at age 42 in August after a battle with motor neuron disease – “The worst bloody disease there ever was,” said his father, jack
The Souttar family has always been private about Aaron’s struggle – Harry and his brother John raised money for MND Scotland by selling football memorabilia – but Harry said in this pre-match prep: “My brother passed away three and a half months ago, so I I hold it on my arm just to remind myself every day what a brilliant person he was.”
The struggle to find a cure for MND has been highlighted in recent days thanks to the incredible efforts of Kevin Sinfield, who raised £1.5 million by completing seven ultramarathons in seven days and timing his halftime rugby league finale World at Old Trafford.
His feat was spurred on by his former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow’s diagnosis – and the route was designed to resonate with former Scotland rugby player Doddie Weir and Bradford City footballer Stephen Darby, who also have the condition.
Now World Cup football is in the spotlight and Jack, Heather and more of Souttar’s family and friends are in Qatar for Australia’s three group stage games starting against Kylian Mbappe and Co tonight (7pm).
Jack added in an interview with the Courier: “It’s not something that should happen to a family, but this is MND. It’s horrible.
“Both John and Harry always played down any injuries they had in their careers because what their brother was going through was on a different level. No doubt it helped them mentally.
“Aaron was a little older than Harry and John, but they were very close. Her two sisters (Ailsa and Mhiran) were also there. We were all really affected by it. Of course, Aaron will be an inspiration to John and Harry in everything they do in their careers. For jove, there were ups and downs. Football can certainly give you that too.”
Harry was injured for almost exactly a year, healed by Stoke after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament.
But on a Tuesday earlier this month, he was finally able to return, leading a 2-0 win over Luton Town and being called up to Australia’s 26-man squad.
“For me, a big part of rehab was talking to my brother (John), who has had three Achilles tendon injuries and has been out for a few years. Seeing what he’s been through made it not look too bad,” said the 24. year-old centre-back, who also got new tattoos showing his Australia cap number and a deer.
“It’s a gradual process, you have the first session on the grass running straight for a minute, then you progress to passing a five-yard and 10-yard ball and so on.
“I know a lot of guys who say that in the first session, when you get a hit or a big attack, you know how it feels. I’ve had a few of them and I got over it. I don’t think I ever thought in my head that I wouldn’t make it, I always knew that if I worked hard I would make it in the end.”