Rangers Academy left-back James Maxwell says Nathan Patterson is an inspiration to every youth player at the club as he prepares to represent Scotland at Euro 2020.
The 19-year-old, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with Queen of the South last season, was delighted to see Nathan playing an important part in Steven Gerrard’s title-winning side in 2020/21 and his reward was a call-up to Steve Clarke’s squad for this summer’s European Championships.
Nathan made his international debut in the recent win over Luxembourg ahead of the tournament and Maxwell is full of admiration for his former Academy team-mate.
Speaking as he helped promote The Rangers Youth Development Company – who have provided more than £9 million to the Rangers Academy since 2002 – James said: “Nathan had to bide his time. He did really well in training with the first-team but James Tavernier plays at such a high level so he had to wait for his chance to play.
“Tav was doing so well then picked up an injury and when Nathan’s opportunity came he took it very well.
“I am good pals with Nathan and I am delighted for him. It was good to see him playing in a Rangers jersey for the first team.
“Now he is part of the Scotland squad for the Euros and I am so happy for him.
“It will be a great experience for him and he has deserved it because he has done really well and won the league with Rangers.
“It’s a tough challenge to displace someone like Tav but it’s the same for all positions as you are probably up against an international player for a place. It’s the same for me with Borna (Barisic) on the left. But you have to keep working hard and be ready to take your chance and Nathan certainly did that.
“He is an inspiration to everyone at the Academy and we all want to follow in his footsteps. The pathway is there as Nathan has shown and he has worked hard to get himself into that position. You need to be ready to take any opportunity you get and Nathan did that so well.
“I’ll be watching the Scotland games and hopefully we can get to see him play in at least one of them. I think they can get out of their group. Hopefully they can.”
James, who joined Rangers when Falkirk’s youth academy was discontinued, was also delighted to spend last season on loan with Queen of the South.
The Dumfries club are managed by ex-Rangers winger Allan Johnston and striker Sandy Clark and they made him feel welcome from day one.
He played over 30 games for the Championship side and says the experience was great for his development.
Maxwell continued: “I’d gone to Queen of the South with the hope of playing lots of games and playing regularly and I really enjoyed my time there.
“I showed people what I could do and all the staff and players were really good with me. Thanks to everyone at the club for making me feel so welcome.
“I couldn’t really have asked for more from my first loan spell away from Rangers. I played over 30 games, scored five goals – and a few were on the television too which was good – and made some assists too so it was great exposure.
“I didn’t think I would score as many as I did but it is always good to add to your goal tally.
“My goal against Hibs gave me a lot of pleasure. It was the toughest games of the season, they are a good side, so it was great to score against a top-flight team.
“The ‘B’ team games and Academy games at Rangers give you a really good grounding and I was ready and well prepared to play competitive football for Queen of the South.
“I knew I needed this challenge so to get the experience of playing competitive men’s football every week where every game means something was really good for me.
“I learned a lot there. I made a few mistakes but I learned from them and there is not much difference between the Championship and middle/lower end of the Premier League. You saw that when Dundee beat Kilmarnock in the play-off final recently.
“There wasn’t an easy game. Every game brought a different challenge but I have learned so much.
“I have been playing left-back for a couple of seasons now and I feel my defending has improved as a result of this loan. You are playing against good players – like Martin Boyle at Hibs. Some really top players who can cause teams problems so it was good to play against them and I thought I did well.
“All the players were really good with me and the management team - Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark - understood after a couple of days what I was all about and what I could do.
“They gave me great advice and gave me the chance to play. They knew I was young and still developing so I could make some mistakes. When I did, they were really encouraging and were so good at giving me wee pointers and tips.
“They treated me as one of the Queen of the South players even though I was on loan and that was brilliant.
“I experienced different sides of football there. We had a five-game losing run which wasn’t great then we went on a good run just after Christmas and playing week in, week out was really enjoyable.
“Losing games is never nice, but that’s part of football and you have to learn to deal with setbacks too.
“I will come back to Rangers for pre-season training and see what happens now. I have trained with the first-team in the past and enjoyed the experience.
“At Queen of the South I felt a proper part of the first-team and I would love to replicate that at Rangers.
“My Rangers Academy journey has been pretty amazing to be honest. I can’t speak highly enough of the work that they do and I know they are helped by Rangers Youth Development Company donations.
“The academy looks after players so well and the staff always work as hard as they can to develop players.
“Going out on loan was the next step in my journey and I made sure the Queen of the South staff knew how much I appreciated the opportunity. It has given me a really solid foundation to go and crack on now.
“I have another year left on my Rangers contract and I will give it my all and see where it takes me.”
Annual Rangers Youth Development Company donations make a positive difference to players like James and Nathan. More than £9 million has been provided and the latest donation was another £450,000 in January.
For full details on RYDC and their products - which include Rangers Lotto, Rangers Pools, Rangers Quiz, The Union Jackpot, Scratchcards and Stadium Bricks - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.