Rangers Academy graduate Ross McCrorie is delighted to be part of Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad and says the lessons he learned as a youth player at Ibrox have prepared him perfectly for life as an international.

The 26-year-old was extremely proud to be included in the provisional squad and then win his first cap in the pre-tournament win over Gibraltar, now he has earned a place in Steve Clarke’s final squad on the back of a terrific six months at Bristol City.

McCrorie worked tirelessly to recover from a serious injury to make his belated debut in January and his early games included high-profile FA Cup ties against West Ham and Nottingham Forest.

The former Light Blues star has been an important player for the Ashton Gate side ever since and is raring to go ahead of Scotland’s first game against host nation Germany on Friday evening.

Representing his country in a major tournament is something he always dreamt of and he’s immensely grateful for the grounding he received at the Rangers Academy which set him on the path to a successful football career.

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 – an excited Ross spoke to us from Scotland’s HQ in Bavaria.

He said: “I was buzzing when I was named in the initial squad but to make the final squad is a great honour for me and my family.

“To make your debut for your country is the pinnacle of any footballer’s career and it was an extremely proud moment to win my first cap against Gibraltar considering the bad injury I had for the majority of the season.

“It has been the icing on the cake after all the hard work I have put in.

“I started training in December then played 45 minutes for the reserves and my first start for Bristol City was against West Ham.

“I played against them and Nottingham Forest in my first four games and I was grateful to the manager for putting me straight in.

“I built myself up and have felt fully fit since April. I feel strong and I didn’t want the season to end so to get this call up is great after all the hard work I’ve put in during my rehab.

“I’ve always been a hard worker and that was an early lesson I learned as a Rangers youth player. You always have to graft to get your rewards and can never take anything for granted, that’s something I remember every day.

“I have to thank the staff at Bristol City for helping me through the tough moments and getting me back in shape.

“Nigel Pearson signed me and was brilliant with me but I never got the chance to play for him before he left. But he was one of the first people to text me when I made my debut in January.

“Now I am part of Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad and it was special to see my name on Sky Sports News when the squad was announced.

“I’ve had so much support from my family and friends throughout my career and I know being named in the squad has made them proud.

“It was fantastic to make my international debut, it’s what all professional footballers want and I had it in my head at the start of the season.

“Playing in the Euros was my motivation to get back from injury and to get the debut was such a proud moment after a tough season.

“We have Germany in the first game to open the tournament and we couldn’t have asked for better.

“It’s going to be a great experience and something I’m really looking forward to.

“As a footballer you want to play in the biggest games and Germany, Hungary and Switzerland will be tough challenges but it’s going to be exciting and the Tartan Army will give us all great support.

“I learned a lot of things at the Rangers Academy. They weren’t just preparing you to be a footballer, they prepared you to be a good person too.

“I never got too carried away, I always stayed grateful and humble. That helped me a lot.

“I remember they brought Donald McNaughton in when I was there and he helped me a lot with the mental side of the game.

“I learned so much from a young age and I’ve carried that with me so I’ve got to give the coaches I worked with at Rangers a lot of credit, especially Ian Durrant who really helped me.

“I worked with a lot of top coaches at the Academy who took my game to another level.

“I joined Rangers at 9 and I dreamt about playing for the national team but you never think it will actually happen when you are kicking the ball about with your mates.

“It just goes to show what you can achieve with a lot of grit and determination.

“The set up at Rangers was top class when I was there but it has been taken to a new level now.

“For a young player, it is one of the best places to develop and there can be no excuses.

“You get every opportunity to develop at Rangers and we started the Best v Best Games Programme when I was there and we got the chance to play away in tournaments against some of the best teams in Europe.

“That made us grow up and experience what it would be like to be a professional footballer from an early age.

“Rangers put my brother Robby and I in with a guest family – the Kinghorn’s – and we were very grateful for everything they did for us.

“The club were great with us on the education side too so I am very grateful for the start I got at Rangers.

“It was always my dream to play for Rangers and I will always be a Rangers fan. 

“That will never leave me. I even went to the Europa League Final in Seville in 2022 with boys I grew up with in the youth set up.

“The two seasons I played in the Rangers first-team were probably the best moments of my career.

“I never experienced anything like it. You are in the firing line and under pressure all the time, it’s a cauldron and you thrive off the expectation.

“I loved it but I wanted to take my game to another level and get more game time.

“I had to take myself out my comfort zone to improve and that’s what I did.

“I played in a lot of big games. I think it was 6 or 7 Old Firm games and the build-up to matches like that stand me in good stead.

“All the details and pre-match preparation are so important and I still carry that with me today.

“I played League Football and European Football and they have all added to my game.

“There are a few boys in the Scotland squad with Rangers links and I have played with or against about three quarters of them so I feel at home here.

“The group we have is really tight knit. They are a good group of boys and it’s like a family environment.

“We have top players and are all like best mates. That’s what I love about it.

“It’s a special feeling.

“The gaffer told me to go and enjoy my debut and to do exactly what I had been doing at Bristol City.

“He told me I didn’t have to prove anything to him because he knew I was a good player. He has been great with all the players and I am grateful he believes in me and has put me in his squad.

“It would be great if we could get out the group, that’s our target. Scotland haven’t done that before and it would be immense if we could do it.

“It’s going to be a great experience and I am here because of the grounding I received at Rangers.

“I loved my time there and I will always be grateful to the club and for the support we all received from RYDC.

“They have donated so much to the Academy. I remember when I was there the annual donation was £175,000 then £250,000 so for the last few donations to be up to £400,000 is amazing.

“They give so much support to the youth set up and you can see players like Ross McCausland progressing to the first-team squad.

“The Academy has improved so much in the past few years and that’s thanks to RYDC donations.

“All the supporters back the RYDC by playing their products and the Academy benefits so that’s great to see.”

Ross’ career 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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