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Rangers Academy graduate Ross McCausland has been on the crest of a wave since featuring against Aris Limassol in early October.

And the old cliché of footballers ‘living the dream’ is certainly appropriate for the 20-year-old who has enjoyed a meteoric rise with the Light Blues in the past few months – under interim manager and his football hero Steven Davis and now new boss Philippe Clement.

After a positive late showing against Aris, Ross made a handful of impressive domestic appearances from the bench and featured again in the Europa League against Sparta Prague at Ibrox before earning a deserved first start against Livingston in mid-November.

VAR harshly ruled out a goal for the young attacker, which would have put the icing on the cake after another productive display, but he wasn’t disappointed for long.

Such was the quality of his eye-catching performances, he received a late call-up to the full Northern Ireland squad and was voted man of the match in their game against Finland.

McCausland then signed a new long-term contract with his beloved Rangers and celebrated in style by bagging his first goal for the club a few days later – a composed strike to earn a 1-1 draw with Aris at Ibrox.

He has developed his game by working hard and learning from the talented staff at the Rangers Academy since joining from Linfield in 2019.

And the lifelong Bluenose reflected on his recent success in a wide-ranging interview as he showed his support for The Rangers Youth Development Company – who have donated more than £11 million to the Rangers Academy to date.

Recalling his whirlwind last few months, Ross said: “Playing for Rangers is all I ever dreamed of and it’s all happened so fast. It was a bit chaotic at first but it now feels normal and I’m trying to take it all in my stride.

“I’ll keep my feet on the ground and take as much experience from it as I can. I’ll keep working hard to try and impress the manager and take the chances I am given.

“It’s been a great period for me and I was buzzing to sign a new contract with Rangers, I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

“Being in and around the first team here is only going to make me a better player and the experienced guys like Tav and Jack Butland have been great with me. I can learn so much from them.

“It was great to come off the bench and get minutes under my belt but my first start against Livingston was amazing.

“It was an incredible feeling walking out with the starting line-up. Being a Rangers fan and going to games, I obviously knew what the atmosphere was like but to experience it as part of the first XI was incredible.

“It was a dream come true and a great feeling.

“To start games at Ibrox and to hear ‘Simply The Best’ is also amazing. It’s everything I ever dreamt of.

“It means so much to me to be a Rangers player and I have had great support from my family, friends and my girlfriend.

“My family used to drive me about everywhere when I was younger so I’m playing for them too.

“I’m grateful for their support and they are proud of me.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last few months and scoring my first goal for Rangers in Europe was an incredible feeling. I didn’t expect to come on so early against Aris but I was so excited to get on and try and do something for the team.

“I had more than an hour so I wanted to make an impact. To get the goal was amazing and I’ll never forget the reaction from the fans.

“I’m a direct player so I just try and make an impact and make something happen as much as possible when I am on the pitch.

“My confidence is growing every day and I feel comfortable in the team.

“I always wanted to play for Rangers so my move here couldn’t have worked out any better.

“I was playing for Linfield and I knew some scouts were coming to watch me in a game. I had an absolute blinder then got the call from Rangers saying they wanted to take me.

“To be able to now play for Rangers at Ibrox is surreal but I will keep my feet on the ground and enjoy the experience.

“People are saying nice things about me and I appreciate it all but at the same time I have a job to do and I have a lot to learn. I’m just at the start of my career and I want it to last as long as it can.

“I’ve also managed to play for Northern Ireland this season and that was a great moment for me and my family.

“It’s a big achievement and I didn’t think my week could get any better after starting against Livingston but it did.

“To be in the squad was great then to find out I was starting was incredible. I just wanted to get out there and do well and I got man of the match. The result was disappointing but it was still a proud moment to make my debut.

“Growing up, my dreams were to play for Rangers and my country and I’ve done that already but I want to achieve a lot more and this is just the start of my career.

“I want to try and secure a place in the Rangers team and make more appearances for Northern Ireland. Those are my two main ambitions.

“I’ve worked hard to get my chances and being at the Rangers Academy has helped me so much as they strive to make all the boys ready for first-team football.

“Stepping up isn’t easy but credit to David McCallum and Brian Gilmour for helping me develop, they have been with me since I joined.

“I made my debut against Hearts two years ago at Tynecastle and there have been ups and downs since but I just kept my head down and kept working hard.

“I knew my chance would come and the boys in the B Team can see what I’ve done and take hope from that too.

“The facilities we have at the club are incredible and there is so much experience in the building.

“Steven Davis is the anchor of this situation. It all started when he put me on after Zak Lovelace got injured against St Mirren. I took my chance and it stemmed from there.

“The new gaffer has also given me a chance and I’ve tried to impress him in training and matches.

“He has backed me and says age doesn’t matter, it was the same at his former clubs, so I’m delighted to get my chance.

“He has given me a lot of confidence and I want to work as hard as I can and do well for him.

“I’m enjoying every moment of it and there is a Cup Final to look forward to too.

“The semi-final against Hearts was my first taste of Hampden and it was a great experience then it was amazing to start the League Cup Final and beat Aberdeen.

“I’m just learning as much as I can and Alex Rae has also given me great advice that will only help my game. I love listening to his Rangers stories.

“The club has so much history and I’ve been to the new Museum twice, it’s unbelievable.

“Some players might not know about the history of Rangers so I think it’s good for them all to go and visit and learn more about the club they are at.

“It’s an amazing museum and I know The Rangers Youth Development Company help fund it with their Museum Lotto product.

“RYDC have donated about £11 million to the Academy and we all appreciate it.

“That type of finance can only help the Academy and we are all grateful for it.”

Ross’ 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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