Blog > Career Interviews

Q&A: Liam Henshaw, Data Analyst & Scout

Q&A: Liam Henshaw, Data Analyst & Scout

After developing a strong interest in analysis while studying Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett University, data analyst and scout Liam Henshaw spent several years building up his skills and developing a portfolio while working as a football trader and supervisor in the gambling industry. Freelance employment at different professional clubs and agencies ultimately led him to his current cole as a Data Analyst and Scout in the recruitment team at Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian FC.

Alongside his work at Hearts, Liam has a strong presence on social media and his own website, using both platforms to share tools, resources, articles, and general guidance to people looking to enhance their skills within the world of data, analysis, and scouting. We caught up with Liam in order to gain some insight into his career path so far and discuss the key aims of his online resources.

What was your entry point into analysis and scouting?

"My starting point was at university, doing a Sports Coaching course. After my first couple of years of general studying, I specialised in more of an analysis pathway. At the time, there wasn't to my knowledge much of a pathway for recruitment and scout analysis, so my first experiences came in performance analysis within an academy placement with Leeds United, and then a first team placement with Bradford City, both set up through university, from me being proactive in my studies. I really enjoyed working in football but had opportunities to get full time work elsewhere once I finished my degree, and ended up working in the gambling industry for six or seven years. I thought that was goint to be the career for me, and never really thought about getting back into football." 

"Then, during all the free time provided by lockdown, I saw a lot of people online posting great analysis work, like Jay Sochi, Carl Carpenter, and Ashwin Raman. That was the first time I saw data from a recruitment perspective, and the public way people were doing it really interested me. I continued learning in my free time, how to create data visualisations and how data works within a recruitment setting, and then landing part-time roles at Wigan, doing freelance work with football clubs and agencies, and deciding this is something I'm really passionate about. Then last year, I decided to leave the gambling industry and joined Hearts full-time."

You have a strong presence on social media, particularly Twitter/X. What have you done over the years to build up and engage with that audience?

"Social media is a powerful tool and a great community to learn and grow from, and a lot of those early adopters have gone on to get jobs in the industry. For me, I started posting about the team that I support (Nottingham Forest), because it's something I'm watching in my own time, and that developed into a niche. I had more of a focus on the EFL, and there weren't a lot of people focusing on data and performance for clubs across the EFL, so it ended up being quite a good niche, and I developed relationships with different clubs and agencies.

The biggest thing for me is posting about something that you enjoy and that you have a genuine passion about. Especially if you're learning data analysis, visualisations and coding; they can be boring if you're doing work on things that you're not very passionate about, but if you are, you're going to be able to pick up those skills a lot quicker. When I first started, I didn't really know how to create data visualisations, I didn't really know what Tableau was, so being able to go from that position to working in football and using these tools on a daily basis just shows that if you have got a passion and you are willing to learn and try, you can really grow and level up your skills quickly."

How important was that social media presence in helping you get the job at Hearts?

"Massive. I already knew the Head of Recruitment, through him seeing my work online, so we had our chats about potential roles down the line, before this opportunity came up. I happened to be at a conference and we got talking in person. Because of social media, he already had some insight into how I worked and that my knowledge base was around the EFL. Even if we hadn't had the introduction beforehand, he would've known a little bit about me, about the work I can produce, and that opens up that door."

Could you explain your role at Hearts and walk me through a typical working day?

"My role is quite broad; we are a relatively small team, so although my main role is data analyst within the recruitment team, I also scout for them as well. A typical day might look like me sitting down and reviewing scouting notes or scout reports from the weekend on Monday morning. We'll probably spend an hour or two discussing the weekend's games with the scouts and the Head of Recruitment, and we'll also look into highlighting players through data profiles. I spend a lot of time in Python and creating bespoke models to highlight players who are performing well across a number of leagues.

In these meetings, I'll present these players, and dive into the players who have stood out through the live video scouting, to then go 'This is a player that you suggested, these are his numbers, which backs up or doesn't back up what we've seen'. It's an all-encompassing role and every day is different, so it's about being adaptable, being able to switch focus from working on a long-term or medium-term project, to working on coding or analysis, to getting in to watch a player live or through video."

Could you tell me about the relationship you have with head coach Steven Naismith and the rest of the coaching staff?

"The first team analysts work extremely close with Steven Naismith and have a big impact on his game-to-game workflow, and the Head of Recruitment and Sporting Director are also constantly in conversation with Steven and the coaches about players. The conversations work the other way, too; coaches might have ideas about players they've played against, and we'll discuss and have conversations around how those players look to us.

Having a genuinely close working relationship with the coaches only empowers the recruitment process for us, because knowing what he wants and expects from players makes our lives easier."

What are the key things you've learned since you've been at Hearts?

"Communication is key. For context, I'm based in the Midlands and I'm up at Hearts on a monthly basis for three or four nights at a time. That's great for both the club and myself from a scouting perspective; to get out to live games, and get that vital contact time on the training ground, chat to the coaches, the Sporting Director and the Head of Recruitment. Communication is a little bit easier with us because we're a smaller team, and that allows us to jump on calls quickly, air things out, get opinions and progress things quickly.

I think that especially for clubs with smaller budgets, it's always vital to be quick and agile on decision making, so communication for me has been the key. Also, it's important being able to communicate in "football language", to keep things nice and simple through video presentations and data packs presented to the coaches when we're in there, to sit down with the coaches and talk about what I see from a data side of things, and put that into context in easy-to-digest terms. There's been a spike in remote or hybrid roles, but getting that contact time with the people you work with is vitally important."

That interest in clear, transparent communication is something that comes across in your online work and resources too. Could you talk me about how you share your work with others?

"I want to try and help people. I'm fortunate enough to have got online at a time where there were a lot of scouts and analysts putting out great work, and they were very helpful in sharing their knowledge and being open and transparent about the tools they use and how they've got to where they are. I want to be able to resurface and share that information, and I have a platform with a few people following, so to be able to share tips and knowledge about how to get roles in football or start with your scouting or analysis journey is really important to me.

I'll share resources on how to learn to code from scratch or from the basics, or with scouting, there are free and paid scouting template resources on the website, to help people create their own scouting database and log their own reports. There are scouting tools, book recommendations, a host of articles, and examples of my longer form recruitment dossiers that helped me get roles in the industry. And I'm currently looking at building a course that will hopefully encompass the analysis, scouting and portfolio side, helping people know what content to put out there, what a good portfolio looks like, how to find a niche.

I want to translate a little bit of what I do but also what the scouting and analysis world looks like, and give people the tools and understanding to go away and try it."

How can analysts and scouts make themselves stand out in the earlier stages of their careers? 

"A big thing is creating an online platform for yourself, on whatever medium suits you. If you're starting fresh, I'd suggest posting things you enjoy and things you're passionate about on a platform that has a built-in viewership and algorithms that allow your posts to land with other people without you having to directly share it. I'd generally suggest Twitter/X, and I think Medium has been a great platform for that as well, and also LinkedIn.


Finding something you enjoy is key; if you enjoy what it is you're learning and producing then you're going to learn and produce more, and then by linking that in with an online platform where it can get shared with people, you can build connections that might open up opportunities. You'll get feedback, and you can improve that work, develop, and progress. Nothing is ever original, so being able to take inspiration from what other people do and apply that to your own setting, we see that a lot in coaching and it also applies to the scouting and analysis world."

Are you there any other tools or resources you've been building that you'd like to share more information about?

"I've got my scouting platform Pro Scout Edge, which is a paid-for template to help people on their scouting journey. It encompasses scout reports from an individual and a team basis, and plenty more scouting resources. There are also free resources such as a bookshelf with recommendations of different data, scouting and portfolio-related books to read, and free scouting templates to help people develop their own scouting system. We're also going to have a CV bank, with CV templates to help people apply for roles, and there's a pre-save for a course that I'm building which looks into building that analysis, scouting and portfolio edge. For me, it's just about building a community and being someone that can help you start that journey, learn, and go on to get roles within the industry."

You can find out more about Liam's work by heading to his website.