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Light Blues goalkeeper Robby McCrorie will be forever grateful to the Rangers Academy for giving him the foundation and grounding to challenge  for a regular place between the sticks at his beloved club.

The lifelong Bluenose, who recently signed a new contract with the club that takes him to 2025, also appreciates the incredible level of financial support The Rangers Youth Development Company has provided the Academy down the years – with their latest £400,000 donation making it more than £10 million since 2002.

Players like Nathan Patterson, Leon King, Alex Lowry, Adam Devine, Billy Gilmour and more recent graduates like 16-year-old debutants Bailey Rice, Zak Lovelace and Archie Stevens have all developed thanks to RYDC support and Robby hopes to follow in the footsteps of Hall of Famer McGregor who graduated from the Academy and became first-choice keeper at Ibrox.

25-year-old McCrorie made his debut in a 0-0 draw with Alashkert in the Europa League last season and he followed that up with another clean sheet in a terrific 1-0 Old Firm victory at Ibrox a few days later.

He kept another clean sheet in last weekend’s win over Aberdeen at Ibrox and has worked extremely hard with goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart to give himself the opportunity to feature in the top team.

Robby is full of praise for the club’s Academy staff for preparing him for life as a senior pro, speaking at a recent photoshoot for RYDC at the training ground, he said: “RYDC investment has really helped my career and you realise how great the facilities are here when you go out on loan to other clubs, and that’s no disrespect to them.

“I will never take what we have here for granted.

“RYDC funds have helped me and many other players and even if players move on they were still developed brilliantly at the Rangers Academy and can go on to have good careers.

“It’s not easy to break into the Rangers team but the Academy, assisted by annual RYDC donations, has helped prepare me challenge for a place in the first team.

“Only the best of the best can play at a club this size but the Academy has given me a great grounding and given me the foundation to go on and have a good career.

“I always wanted to be a goalkeeper and I have worked with a lot of great coaches. Peter Dennison and Alan Main when I was starting out and when I got older I worked with Graeme Smith, Jim Stewart and now Colin Stewart.

“They all played a big part in my development and I am grateful to every one of them.

“I have always supported Rangers and Greegsy was my hero growing up. I also liked guys like Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer and it’s important to try and look at the best.

“It’s great to work with Allan on a daily basis and he has had the same Academy journey as I have.

“I was fortunate enough to train with Greegsy and Neil Alexander briefly when I was about 14 so I was able to see early on what it takes to play for Rangers.

“I was a bit nervous when I first went round to train with the first team but you quickly learn to relax into it.

“I’ve also had a few loan spells and I have worked up the levels. I started at Berwick Rangers then I was at Morton, Queen of the South and Livingston so each move has benefitted my career.

“The manager has said he will give me an opportunity to play so that gives me confidence obviously.

“I had a good relationship with him before when he was here and I back my own ability on the pitch. I am now pushing Allan and Jon for a place in the team.

“When you are at a big club like Rangers that wants to win trophies you are always going to have a harder job breaking into the team but it has always been an ambition of mine to be a regular at this club.

“I signed a new contract recently so the next year or two are going to be exciting for my career.

“I have been in Scotland squads recently too and I always enjoy going away. I have a good relationship with Steve Clarke and goalkeeping coach Chris Woods, who also had a great career here, and I have been fortunate enough to play at different age groups with the national team.

“I have always had the drive and ambition to play for Rangers and Scotland.

“That’s definitely something I want to do in the future.

“I have already had a taste of it and it was fantastic to make my Rangers debut in Europe then keep a clean sheet in an Old Firm victory at Ibrox last season.

“You dream about that when you are a kid and I’ve managed to do it so nobody can ever take that away from me.

“Keeping a clean sheet in such a big game gives me confidence and it was a great moment for me.

“That’s the level I want to be at but you need to keep working hard and push yourself.

“I’m just at the start of my journey and I always work as hard as I can. I feel that will get me somewhere and I will get the rewards over time.

“The manager here gives players the opportunity to play and it’s up to me to take it when the chance comes.

“I am very excited about the future and I was happy to get a new contract done last year.

“I love the club and signing the contract is hopefully a statement of intent going forward for myself and the club.

“I think it’s important to try and assert myself in the team, to do everything possible to make myself successful and, more importantly, make the club successful.

“Hopefully I can play as many games as possible.

“I’ve tried to make the most of every day I have been here, soaking up what the club has done in terms of the European run and winning the Scottish Cup last season. I’ve tried to use those experiences to help me going forward.

“Over the period of this contract it’s important that when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

“The reason I signed the contract is because I love this club and I want to really kick on with my career and establish myself as a first-team goalkeeper.

“I enjoy training with Allan, Jon and Colin Stewart and I’ve been fortunate that I’ve worked with top goalkeepers all the way at the club and with the national team.

“Regardless of who it is, I always look at what people do day-to-day and in matches.

“It can only benefit me and help me improve.

“The biggest thing is that we push the standards and each other every day. You shouldn’t be at Rangers if you want to settle for being average.

“I think Colin and the goalkeepers as a group definitely work together to be better each day and get results for the club.

“I’ve had a great experience as an Academy player and I thank all the staff there who have helped me get to this stage in my career.”

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