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Bailey Rice captained Scotland’s Under-17 side in a 7-0 win over Switzerland in the Pinatar Arena in Spain on February 17 and the next day the Rangers Academy midfielder was given a dream first-team debut against Livingston.

It was a whirlwind 24 hours for the Light Blues youngster, who joined the club last summer from Motherwell, but an experience he more than took in his stride.

His late appearance at Livi aged 16 years and 137 days made him the youngest post-war player to play in a league game for Rangers – Derek Ferguson still holds the overall record as he made a competitive appearance aged just 16 years and 24 days – but Rice isn’t dwelling on that history-making outing.

He prefers to look to the future with positivity and optimism and is determined to work as hard as he can to develop at the Academy and earn more chances in Michael Beale’s side.

Bailey has enjoyed his inaugural season as a Rangers player and has now gained vital experience with the first-team and the B Team in the Lowland League and Glasgow Cup.

He also cherished his game time against Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax in the UEFA Youth League and is eager to take his game to the next level.

Discussing his time at the club so far as he helped promote The Rangers Youth Development Company and their continued commitment to the Rangers Academy – RYDC have provided more than £10 million and donated another £400,000 in February – Rice said: “I’ve been a Rangers fan my whole life so that had a big part to play in my move from Motherwell.

“This is a great club. I’ve enjoyed playing in the B Team this season and there is a clear pathway to the first-team here.

“It was nerve-wracking when I first joined to be honest but the players and all the coaching staff have been great with me.

“They all helped me settle in quite quickly and it has been brilliant ever since. I really feel at home here and it was a dream come true to make my debut against Livingston.

“That’s what you dream of doing as a young kid and the gaffer gave me the opportunity to go and express myself.

“I was away with Scotland just before that game so it was a bit hectic.

“I had trained with the first-team two weeks before Livi and I thought I did really well.

“I played against Hungary and Switzerland and again I thought I did well in those matches. Then when I was travelling home and checking in my bags when we were leaving Spain, I got the call to say I would be on the bench against Livingston the next day!

“It was incredible to hear that news.

“It was a huge achievement to even be involved in the squad but obviously to make my debut was even better. 

“It was only a few minutes but it was great to play and that’s all I want to do, play games for the first-team.

“I was given a great opportunity and I know I am good enough to be there. “My family were at the game and it was emotional. My dad had a season ticket for Ibrox when he was growing up so it was great for him to see me playing in a Rangers jersey.

“It was his day too.

“When the gaffer told me to get ready to go on I was delighted but I still had to go out there and do a job for the team. 

“It’s now up to me to keep working hard and try and get back round to the first-team side of the training ground.

“All the players looked after me when I was there and now I just need to keep doing well with the Academy and try and earn more chances to train with the squad.

“I need to work as hard as possible and be ready to take any chance I get.

“I’ve enjoyed my first season at Rangers and the UEFA Youth League games against Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax were great experiences.

“They were hard and the level was high but they were great for my development. 

“They replicate what the first-team do in European games and that can only be good for me and the other players at the Academy.

“I enjoyed my time at Motherwell, but as I was getting older I had the chance to move to other clubs and Rangers is a great opportunity for me.

“The coaching and facilities here are top class and can help take me to the next level.

“I want to be a first-team player and I have the pathway here to do that if I keep working hard and can impress the manager.

“I’ve seen players like Leon King, Adam Devine and Alex Lowry all playing in the first-team and I can learn from them.

“They are all good lads and I can get good information from them as they have experienced it more than I have. 

“Leon has started Champions League games so there is a clear pathway from the Academy to the first-team.

“I’m working with Steven Smith, David McCallum, Brian Gilmour and Cameron Campbell at the Academy and all four coaches have been great with me – on and off the pitch.

“Stevie graduated from the Academy when he was a young player and went on to have a good career here so he has given me good advice and tips on what I have to do to succeed.

“So I will work as hard as I can to achieve my goals.

“I started off as a left back, then I played centre half, then I was a left-sided midfielder when I was really young but playing in central midfield suits me now and I really enjoy the position.”

Players like Bailey, Leon King, Nathan Patterson, Alex Lowry, Adam Devine, Billy Gilmour and more recent graduates like young debutants Zak Lovelace and Archie Stevens all develop thanks to RYDC support.

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