Rangers Academy defender Leyton Grant was proud to lift the Scottish Youth Cup at Hampden as captain last season and he’s ready for the next phase of his development with the B Team in 2024/25.

The young Scot enjoyed an impressive campaign with Steven Smith and Jonatan Johansson’s under-18 side and now he’s relishing the prospect of stepping up to David McCallum and Malky Thomson’s squad when he returns to the training ground this summer.

Leyton, who turned 18 in April, signed a new contract with the club recently and is determined to soak up as much knowledge as he possibly can to help develop his game.

A full-time player here since 2022, he first joined the Light Blues as a 12-year-old and admits leading the 18s to cup glory last term is something he will never forget.

However, he is not one for resting on his laurels. The Scotland Under-19 international is already looking ahead to the next stage of his career – a chapter he hopes will include the chance to train with Philippe Clement’s squad for the first time.

Grant has watched fellow Academy players like Ross McCausland, Cole McKinnon and Robbie Fraser feature for the first-team and he hopes to follow in their talented footsteps.

In a wide-ranging interview as he showed his support for The Rangers Youth Development Company – who have provided more than £11 million to the Academy since 2002 – Leyton recalled his Academy journey so far.

He said: “I signed for Rangers when I was 12. My previous club, Forth Valley, basically folded and Rangers took me in. 

“I did one training session and the old Academy Director spoke to my mum and told her they wanted me. So I have been here ever since and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“I started as a striker but I’ve moved further back and I enjoy playing as a central defender. 

“I sometimes get a chance in midfield and I like being central where I can dictate play. It’s more fun and you get more of the ball. 

“Kevin Thomson and Greg Statt were my coaches when I first started and they were a brilliant pairing. I really enjoyed their coaching and I have a fair few good memories from then.

“It’ll be 7 years I’ve been at Rangers at Christmas and I think I have developed well.

“I wouldn’t be the player I am now if I wasn’t at Rangers.

“I went to Boclair Academy and I developed my game a lot there and I’ve continued to take every opportunity I’ve been given.

“I just work as hard as I can every day to improve.

“I enjoy working with all the youth coaches and it’s great to learn from Steven Smith.

“He has so much knowledge and played at such a high level so it’s brilliant to just listen and learn from him.

“It’s a huge benefit to all the youth players here to learn from ex-Rangers players.

“Everything that’s happened to me has happened to him here before and it’s great to take advice from people like Steven and JJ.

“Winning the Scottish Youth Cup last season was brilliant, it was just a great experience.

“I was there the year before but not as captain so it made it so much better to lift the trophy.

“In the weeks leading up to the game I felt it was my responsibility to help the players with the tactics and I really enjoyed that.

“I love that side of the game, it’s like a game of chess I am going to be a coach one day.

“The higher you go in the game, the more tactical it becomes and I like that.

“I thought we were the better team against Aberdeen in the Youth Cup Final. 

“We struggled with their corners at first but once we scored there was never a doubt we were going to win the game.

“So lifting the trophy as captain and getting pictures with all the boys on the pitch is something I will remember forever.

“Stevie Walker, our physio, is always telling us that you can never get too high or too low in football. It’s one of his favourite quotes and I understand that, you need to stay humble but on a personal level 2023/24 was a good season for me.

“I continued to develop every day, we won the cup and I played international football with the Scotland under-19s, which I really enjoyed, but I’m already looking forward to the new season with the B Team.

“I can’t wait. It’s an exciting time.

“We’ve seen players like Ross McCausland, Cole McKinnon, Robbie Fraser and others feature for the first-team and that shows there is a pathway here.

“It’s important to keep getting better every day and if you do that the gaffer will see it.

“We can all take inspiration from what players like Ross have done.

“I haven’t trained with the first-team yet but that’s one of my goals. It’s a journey and you have to take it step by step but hopefully I can earn the chance.

“I signed a new deal recently, a year extension, and now I can just focus on my football, which is important.

“So I will take in all the advice I’m given and see where it takes me.

“I am learning every day and I like the way John Souttar plays. He’s a good defender and good on the ball so I can learn from watching players like him. 

“I’ll have a wee break watching Scotland at the Euros in Germany then I’ll be back into it.

“I will get my head down and work as hard as I can. It’s a big season ahead for me.

“I’ll be doing gym work when I’m back and then start my running but it’s important to keep ticking over during the summer too. The Sports Science Team look after us so well and we have programmes set for us so I’ll come back ready to go.

“It’s a pleasure to come in and work every day at the training ground. We all realise how lucky we are to be here, it’s amazing.

“You have everything you need to develop and I can’t wait for the new season to begin.

“I know The Rangers Youth Development Company play a big part in our development and have donated more than £11 million to the Academy – that’s an incredible amount of money and we are all very grateful.”

Leyton’s development was assisted by annual RYDC donations to the Rangers Academy and more than £11 million has already been provided.

Profit from RYDC products Rangers Lotto, Stadium Bricks and The Union Jackpot draw all go to the Academy, while profit from Museum Lotto is donated to the club for the upkeep and maintenance of the new museum.

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