Hous­ton des­per­ate to break into Ibrox side

Evening Times - - FEATURES - BY CHRIS JACK

A JOUR­NEY that started on the street could cul­mi­nate at Ibrox. Jor­dan Hous­ton was once a Di­a­mond, but now he hopes to shine for Rangers.

The de­fender has spent more than a decade in Light Blue as he at­tempts to rise all the way through the ranks and re­alise his boy­hood dream.

A reg­u­lar fea­ture of the Un­der-20 squad that is man­aged by Graeme Murty, Hous­ton is one of a hand­ful of Gers pro­teges that are now just one step away from first-team ac­tion.

It was his dad, Iain, that was his first boss when he started out as a kid, fall­ing in love with the game as he played with friends from his area. It is Steven Ger­rard that he must im­press now, though, as he sets his sights on Ibrox.

“A few of the boys on the street were roughly the same age as me and we were play­ing down the lo­cal park,” Hous­ton told SportTimes. “One day my dad de­cided that we were go­ing to start a team and we got in­volved.

“We played as Boys Club and started a team called EK Di­a­monds. It was just boys from the street and then we got oth­ers from East Kil­bride join­ing. Even­tu­ally, a few of us moved on. It was great that my dad came up with the idea and I think ev­ery­one in the area ap­pre­ci­ated it at that time be­cause it got us all started and got us all in­volved.

“We got more com­pet­i­tive when we started play­ing other teams and it was great to be part of a league and play games where there was that edge on win­ning.

“I think it has helped me mas­sively and it is only later you re­alise how much those times when you are young ben­e­fit you and how much of an im­pact they have on you.

“You learn foot­ball but you learn about life as well and I think all the boys on the street learned a lot through it.”

That thirst for vic­tory that was honed at a young age will cer­tainly stand Hous­ton in good stead as he tries to forge a ca­reer for him­self with Rangers.

Those for­ma­tive years helped shape Hous­ton as a player and a per­son. At the Hum­mel Train­ing Cen­tre, he is im­prov­ing on and off the park ev­ery day.

“I don’t think any­one else is play­ing at the level I am un­for­tu­nately,” he said. “A few of them didn’t quite get through, which was

a shame. I am for­tu­nate to have the op­por­tu­nity that I have and it just shows you what can hap­pen when a chance arises. You have to make the most of ev­ery chance.

“You never know who is there watch­ing you or keep­ing an eye on your games. I was taken by sur­prise the day that I found out clubs were in­ter­ested in me at a young age.

“I have been here for so long now, it is 11 years now, so hope­fully that next step is first team foot­ball. Hope­fully I can progress as quickly as pos­si­ble be­cause that is what I have dreamt of since I came to the club.”

The am­bi­tion of play­ing at the high­est level is one that Hous­ton has had since he took his first steps in the Rangers Academy sys­tem all those years ago.

He signed a new con­tract in July that will keep him at Ibrox un­til the sum­mer of 2020 as his progress and po­ten­tial were re­warded.

And the ver­sa­tile de­fender is con­fi­dent he can con­tinue to make the nec­es­sary strides that will ul­ti­mately lead him to a place in Ger­rard’s plans.

“I am de­lighted with the way things are go­ing for me per­son­ally and with the way things are go­ing at the club,” Hous­ton said. “It is good to be play­ing just now so hope­fully I can keep that up.

“The games we played last year were bril­liant and it was a good eye-opener for us and this sea­son I am look­ing to build on that. It was good to play against Euro­pean op­po­si­tion and teams from the UK

as well so there were a lot of ben­e­fits.

“Day to day, I am just try­ing to get bet­ter and that will hope­fully see me progress sea­son on sea­son and get that first team op­por­tu­nity.

“It is a great in­cen­tive when you see the young boys go round and get given their chance to show the man­ager what they can do.

“It has been shown that if you do well for the 20s then you will get that first team op­por­tu­nity. That is great to know as young play­ers.” The task of mak­ing the jump from the Un­der-20s to the first team is a daunt­ing one for any young player and the be­lief from a man­ager is cru­cial if they are to do it suc­cess­fully. Hous­ton’s job is ar­guably more dif­fi­cult than many of his peers, how­ever. The man whose jer­sey he is look­ing to take just hap­pens to be Ger­rard’s cap­tain, James Tav­ernier. Hous­ton said: “If I could hold it down, I would say right-back is my best po­si­tion and I like to get for­ward from deep. “I am for­tu­nate that I can play a num­ber of po­si­tions and I am a util­ity player so I can fill in.

“That might help me in the long run be­cause I can play ei­ther right-back or left-back. I will just keep push­ing.

“There is no pres­sure on me com­pet­ing with the cap­tain! He is a great player and he is do­ing really well just now.

“He has got great qual­i­ties and I think we are sim­i­lar in terms of what we look to do on the pitch. It will be dif­fi­cult for me to move any­one out of the team, never mind the cap­tain, but you need to have that will to do it be­cause you want their jer­sey. “He has got a great style of play, es­pe­cially his for­ward at­tributes, and there are cer­tainly things that I can im­ple­ment into my game.”

Hous­ton in ac­tion for Gers U20s

Jor­dan Hous­ton (in­set) is hop­ing to seize his chance in the Gers first team when the op­por­tu­nity arises

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