Rangers Academy graduate Ross McCausland enjoyed a terrific breakthrough campaign in 2023/24 and is determined to build on his positive start to life as a first-team regular in the season ahead.

The 21-year-old played more than 40 games for club and country last term and it all began when Light Blues legend Steven Davis put him on against St Mirren last October when he was interim manager.

Zak Lovelace picked up an unfortunate injury on his first start for the club but, as often happens in football, it was a lucky break for McCausland who came on just before half-time and he has enjoyed an incredible journey ever since.

It was a whirlwind spell for the young Northern Irishman who signed a long-term contract with his boyhood heroes, made his international debut and scored against Limassol in a Europa League game at Ibrox in the space of a few weeks.

He was in dreamland again in mid-December when he helped Philippe Clement’s men win 3-2 at Real Betis and lift the League Cup with victory over Aberdeen at Hampden.

Ross continued to feature consistently throughout 2024 and added goals to his game with consecutive strikes against Dundee and Hearts in the final weeks of the season.

He also made an appearance in the Scottish Cup Final, won the club’s Youth Player of the Year Award and received a deserved PFA Young Player of the Year nomination from his fellow professionals.

You won’t find Ross getting carried away though, he has remained respectful and humble and is vowing to continue the hard work that earned him his chance at his beloved Rangers in the first place.

He has developed and learned from the talented coaching staff at the Rangers Academy since joining from Linfield in 2019 and he won’t be taking his recent success for granted.

Reflecting on his breakthrough campaign 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 – McCausland said: “It has been a crazy time for me as everyone knows but playing for Rangers was something I dreamt of from a young age so I’m happy to be able to say I’ve done that.

“Last season I was thinking about possibly going out on loan and I started the season playing against Alloa in the Challenge Cup with the B Team so I couldn’t have imagined the journey I would have.

“I had a wee bit of luck and things changed in my favour and I have played in some massive games. It has been amazing.

“Luck plays a part in football and you need a bit of that on your side but when you get the opportunity you have to take it.

“It was unfortunate Zak got injured against St Mirren but that gave me the pathway to go and show what I could do.

“All of a sudden my chance came and I had to be ready.

“When you are an Academy player you have to be ready and you should be aspiring to play for the Rangers first-team.

“It all came round so fast for me but in a way that was better because there was no time to think about it or get nervous.

“I grew up a Rangers fan so I know what it means to play for this club and I know what this club means to the fans so I give my all in every game.

“Playing in the League Cup Final at Hampden and winning against Aberdeen was definitely one of my highlights last season. It was amazing to win my first trophy.

“I still go in to my spare bedroom and look at my medal and my top and think, ‘wow’.

“It is something amazing to look back on and hopefully there is much more to come.

“Everyone knows this club is all about winning and we want as much silverware as we can get our hands on.

“I was chuffed to win the cup so early last season, it was a big milestone for me.

“I made my first start in the league, made my European debut and made my international debut and they were all great experiences.

“I played and scored against Limassol and the Betis game was another step up for me.

“Playing against Finland for Northern Ireland on my debut was also different as we didn’t have much of the ball so I am learning all the time.

“You have to have different attributes, not all games are the same so you need to adapt and bring something different.

“That has helped my learning curve and I have picked up so much.

“I work hard and give me all each time I play. Football is a tough game and you can’t play to the best of your ability all the time. Sometimes you can have a dip but I want my numbers to be at a high level and I picked up towards the end of the season with a few goals.

“Being around players here with different skills help me learn every day and ending the season with the Rangers Youth Player of the Season Award was the icing on the cake for me.

“I was disappointed with the way the season ended as we didn’t win the league or the Scottish Cup but it was a great season for me personally.

“Getting the PFA nomination was also special as you are playing against these players week in, week out and they vote for you.

“To get that recognition was amazing and now I am looking forward to the new season.

“The manager has given me a lot of game time and in big matches. He has been really good with me since he came in and he is great with the small details. If I don’t play he will always tell me why.

“If you are a Rangers fan or not, all players should know this is a massive club who have achieved so much down the years.

“When I went home to Northern Ireland during the summer I realised even more what it means to play for this club.

“I have never had aspirations to play anywhere else. I always wanted to do it as a young boy and I am just glad I am getting to live not only my dream but the dream of every other Rangers’ fan as well.

“I feel part of the first-team squad and I did very quickly to be honest.

“All the boys have been amazing with me from the moment I started training with them.

“My time at the Academy helped prepare me and they try and replicate what happens when you go round to the first-team.

“The tempo is higher and the physicality is different but you are not really shocked with what’s hit you and the preparation made it a lot easier.

“You prepare yourself and the Academy prepares you to be ready when the time comes and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“In the last half of the season I was regarded as the ‘young boy in my breakthrough season’ but I am totally ready and totally accept I won’t have that label any more.

“I need to start providing like any first-team player and I am ready and excited for the season ahead.

“I am confident in my ability and that is something you need.

“We have a few new players in and the training has been amazing so far so we are ready to start the season strongly.

“People like Brian Gilmour and Alex Rae have influenced me massively.

“Brian has been my coach the whole time I have been at Rangers and he gives me so much good information.

“He knows the journey I have been on, he’s been on it with me and he will tell me things that will happen in the next two months and then it does!

“I worked with Brian and David McCallum for a long time at the Academy and that goes a long way. They have both really helped me and I wouldn’t be on this journey without them.

“Alex is bubbly, brings good craic to the group and has a lot of experience. If you are not doing it on the pitch he will tell you.

“Steven Davis has also had a huge influence on my career and everybody knows how successful he was here. What a player.

“What he has done with Rangers was amazing and I don’t think anyone will ever forget that. I just wish him all the best with his retirement.

“He is still involved with Northern Ireland and I saw him when I was away during the summer. He has so much experience and I can pick up the phone and speak to him for advice.

“Not everybody gets the chance to talk to someone like that. He has done everything in the game and when he was interim manager he gave me so much good information and my chance to play.

“I will always be grateful to him for that and being able to soak up experience from a guy like that is amazing.

“Football is about fine margins and we are completely ready to start the season strongly.

“It’s a long season ahead and all the boys are working hard. We know what we need to do and we’ll be ready.

“I want to play as much as I can and get to the level where I am producing good numbers.

“I want to win every trophy I can get my hands on, play as many games as I can and help the team as much as I can with goals and assists.

“Playing for Rangers is a dream come true for me and long may it continue.

“I really enjoyed last season and Academy players like Robbie Fraser and Cole McKinnon also got minutes on the pitch and that was great to see.

“I know how it feels to be a young player coming through and I know how hard they have worked.

“I have played with them since I moved over at 16 and they deserve it.

“Our development has been assisted by The Rangers Youth Development Company who have donated about £11 million to the Academy so far and we all appreciate it.

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

Profit from RYDC products Rangers Lotto, Stadium Bricks, Scratchcards and The Union Jackpot draw all go to the Academy to help produce players like Ross, while profit from Museum Lotto is donated to the club for the 

upkeep and maintenance of the museum.

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