NATHAN PATTERSON today put pen-to-paper on a new, long-term deal with Rangers – but he very much views this as just another step in his development.
At just 19, he is already a major part of Steven Gerrard’s first-team squad, and impressed in his fourth appearance of the season against Ross County on Saturday.
A Rangers fan from birth, it means everything to Academy graduate Patterson to be playing for his boyhood heroes, and he is now determined to kick-on even more and get yet more appearances for the top team under his belt.
Speaking to RangersTV as the ink dried on his new deal, a thrilled Patterson explained: "I have been here from a young age and it is the club I have supported from when I was a young boy as well. It is great to have this security for another few years at this big club.
"I am looking forward to now progressing and hopefully getting more chances in the first-team.
"I have enough time to keep my head down and keep on working hard. The gaffer is a huge role model in football who has achieved a lot. It is great to have that as your manager and I am really looking forward to continuing to work under him.
"It is a great day for me and my family as well. They have stuck by me through all the tough times and it has paid off.
It’s just over a year since Patterson made his top team bow in a Scottish Cup clash with Stranraer, and since then he has gone from strength to strength.
He featured against some world class Bayer Leverkusen talent in the last-16 of the Europa League in August, and followed that with his first European start for the club in December away to Lech Poznan.
Learning every day with club captain, James Tavernier, in the same position as him is a major boost for Patterson who continued: "It has been great working day-in, day-out with top players under the gaffer and a great coaching staff.
"I have really enjoyed it and it is showing on the pitch and I have worked really hard.
"It is great to train with Tav day-in, day-out and to learn from him on and off the pitch. He has been a really big help to me.
"My overall game, really and physically as well [have improved]. I have been in the gym every day trying to better myself and I think it has really paid off and I am getting the benefits from it."
Patterson also believes his experiences coming through the club’s Academy have stood him in good stead for his progression into the first team.
Now having become a full part of the top side, he is determined to be a role model for the rest of the young players at the club, and added: "It has been great coming through the Academy and getting the great challenges playing against top sides in the UEFA Youth League, cup games and cup finals, it puts you in good stead for when you come round and you are in a tough environment.
"You get put under pressure and you thrive under that pressure.
"It shows there is a pathway for any young players as long as they are willing to work hard and take any opportunity which comes their way.
"It is good to see there are other boys who have been there for a while and are now round and all really enjoying it."