If you wanted an illustration of determination, the career of Craig Johnston would supply it.

Long before the likes of Mark Schwarzer and Mark Viduka, Johnston was the first Australian to make it big in English football.

The son of a former Dundee United and Preston North End triallist, Johnston was born in South Africa but moved to Australia at a young age.

He was a member of the Australian youth squad when he saw Boro playing friendlies in his homeland whilst on tour with his school, subsequently writing to a number of First Division clubs asking for a trial.

Only one bothered to reply - Boro trainer Harold Shepherdson offering the lad a chance as long as he paid his own fare.

Johnston's parents sold their house to fund the trip, and he duly came over - but Jack Charlton was unimpressed after a trial game and sent him packing, describing him as the worst footballer he'd ever seen.

Undeterred, and determined to repay the faith of his parents, he resolved to make it at the Boro, and, according to Johnston, would spend much of his days hiding from Chartlon with the help of his teammates!

England honours for Craig Johnston

By his own admission, Johnston had some way to go to perfect his technique, often spending as many as eight hours a day on intense, repetitive drills or knocking a ball about with local kids in the streets behind Ayresome Park to hone his skills. As Johnston put it, the ball was the 'perfect object' - and the more a young player used it, the fewer mistakes he'd make.

The hard work paid dividends when, beset by injuries, Boro turned to 'the kangaroo in the car park' in a reserve team fixture. Johnston played the second half, and scored three goals.

John Neal signed him to a pro contract just two months after his 17th birthday.

There was more drama in store for Johnston when he was nearly drowned by a rising tide in Jersey - only the swimming prowess of the self-confessed 'surfer boy' came to his rescue. Shortly after, he made his debut against Everton, becoming the youngest player to represent Boro in the FA Cup.

Johnston earned a regular first team place after the departure of John Mahoney in 1979, and immediately began to stamp his authority and enthusiasm on the game.

A natural athlete, 'Roo' or 'Skippy' had pace and a fearsome shot, and was also a fine header of the ball.

By Christmas of 1980, he led the club's scoring charts with 10 goals in 22 games, and had spurned advances from Australia, South Africa and Scotland to receive England Under-21 honours

Getting to grips with Bryan Robson

As his whirlwind Boro career drew to a close, he rejected a move to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest for a club record sale to then-reigning champions Liverpool. There he had to wait a year before his full debut, but would go on to establish himself among an all-star cast, winning the European Cups, the FA Cup and five league titles.

On Merseyside, he is still remembered for another offbeat achievement, co-writing The Anfield Rap.

His determination, however, took a totally unexpected turn when aged just 27, he walked out on his contract to return to Australia to take care of his sister, who had been seriously injured in a freak accident. After appearing as a substitute in the 1988 FA Cup Final, he would never wear a Liverpool shirt again, although he did return to the city to attend funerals and memorial services following the Hillsborough Tragedy.

Back Down Under, he worked as a sports writer before finding success as a businessman and innovator, developing the Predator football boot for Adidas as well as other sporting advancements. He has since forged a new career as a photographer.