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Christmas came early for Adam Devine when he was given an extended run in the first-team last December but it wasn’t merely a gift for the young defender, his chance was earned after years of hard work, dedication and top-class coaching at the Rangers Academy.

The 20-year-old Scot, who used to attend matches as a fan with mother Susan and brother Greig, joined the club when he was just 9 and he has gone on to live the dream of any supporter.

Representing Rangers at any level is a privilege that must be merited and Devine has worked diligently with a series of coaches at the club’s Academy who have all played a part in his development.

The Rangers Youth Development Company has also played a key role in Adam’s promotion to the top team as annual Academy donations since 2002 have now passed the £10 million mark, with their latest contribution a whopping £400,000 at the start of the year.

Devine joined fellow Academy graduate Leon King and B Team coach David McCallum at a recent event highlighting RYDC’s commitment to the club’s youth programme and he was in reflective mood as he recalled his journey through the Auchenhowie ranks.

Adam made his Light Blues debut against Dundee Utd at the end of the 2021/22 season and earned his first start in a 3-1 win at Hearts a few days later.

In the season just past, he started against Queen of the South in the League Cup at Ibrox before enjoying six appearances in a row over the festive period.

Now a permanent member of Michael Beale’s first-team squad, the young full-back has had a taste of what it means to be a Rangers player and his Academy grounding has prepared him perfectly for life as a professional footballer.

Speaking about his time at Rangers so far, Devine said: “I played with a boys club when I was growing up and luckily enough I was scouted by Rangers and I have come right through the Academy to the first-team.

“It has been difficult, with a lot of hard work, but I have loved every minute of it.

“I am a Rangers fan so it has been great to have that journey.

“I’ve worked with loads of great academy coaches – when I was younger it was Kieran Reilly, Gary Gibson and Greg Statt and then later on coaches like David McCallum, Brian Gilmour, Kevin Thomson and Peter Lovenkrands so they have all played a big part in my development.

“You go to games as a kid and watch the players on TV so when I first got the chance to train with the first-team it was nerve-racking.

“To get the opportunity to train with them was a massive moment for me but you can’t just be happy with getting that chance, you have to work hard to make the most of the opportunity and then work even harder to stay there.

“You dream of playing for Rangers as a young boy and when the manager gives you the opportunity to wear the jersey you need to take it and try and stay in the team.

“I thought I did not too badly when I had a run in the team after the World Cup but I know I just need to keep working to earn more opportunities.

“I have waited my whole life to get the opportunity to play for the Rangers first-team and once you get on to the pitch you need to do your job, you can’t just be happy to be there.

“I know fans always like to see Academy players breaking through and it is a very important part of the club.

“There are a lot of talented players working hard to try and break through and the fans appreciate what it means to these players when they do.

“My chance last season came when Borna Barisic was at the World Cup and I started the games against Hibs, Aberdeen and Ross County.

“When he returned I was on the bench but still featured in games against Motherwell, Dundee Utd and Aberdeen in the League Cup semi-final so they were great experiences for me.

“I am grateful to the manager for giving me the opportunity to start in games for Rangers, I learned so much and loved every minute of it.

“Now I hope to play in as many games as possible and try and help the team when I can.

“You need to take every day as it comes and when you get the chance to pull on that blue jersey you need to make the most of it.

“Since I was a little boy, about the age of four maybe, I was growing up wanting to play for Rangers at Ibrox. I have done that but it is only the start and I need to keep going and try and get as many games as I can.

“This is only the beginning and I want to continue on this journey but you need to show that the manager can trust you. When you start or go on in games you need to put in a performance.

“When you get on the pitch and you get a few touches of the ball and the fans are behind you, you feel like you belong there.

“Once you settle into games you just feel all your confidence is there.

“The manager has told me I just need to bide my time. Obviously, the two full-backs who are in the team just now are very good players and it’s hard to get in that position. So, when your opportunity comes you just need to take it as well as you can.

“It’s difficult, but it shows the quality here and I need to work every day in training to try to get into the team.

“I think age doesn’t matter. If you are good enough to play then you can play. The manager has shown that since he came in and if you show that you are willing to do the work in training and around the place then you will get your chance.

“I’m very grateful to the staff at the Academy for all they have done for me and I know RYDC’s donations are massive for the Academy too.

“They help so many players progress and develop.

“It’s not just the players though, it helps everyone at the Academy and I know everybody there is very grateful for the support.

“It’s a pleasure to come in to the training ground every day and work and I think they are the best facilities in Scotland.”

Players like Adam, Leon King, Alex Lowry, Robby McCrorie, Nathan Patterson, Billy Gilmour and more recent graduates like debutants Bailey Rice, Zak Lovelace and Archie Stevens have all developed thanks to RYDC support.

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