Home SPORTS Ross McCausland: Rangers winger on ‘mayhem’, dedication & Steven Davis

Ross McCausland: Rangers winger on ‘mayhem’, dedication & Steven Davis

Ross McCausland became the youngest Northern Irish player to score in a European competition against Aris Limassol since his internationaI manager Michael O’Neill in 1989

Ross McCausland says life in the first team at boyhood club Rangers is “feeling a bit normal now” after a couple of weeks of “mayhem”.

McCausland, 20, made his Northern Ireland debut in November a week after his first start for the Ibrox club.

He then became the youngest Northern Irish player to score in a European competition against Aris Limassol since NI manager Michael O’Neill in 1989.

“I’m buzzing with how it has panned out,” McCausland said.

“I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Rangers academy graduate McCausland, who has taken his chance after being handed a first start by interim manager Steven Davis, which was followed by a European debut.

He was then drafted into O’Neill’s Northern Ireland squad and was named in the starting XI for the 4-0 Euro 2024 qualifier defeat by Finland in Helsinki, wearing the number eight shirt of his hero Davis.

A first goal for Rangers followed as he continued to progress under manager Philippe Clement.

That strike broke the record held by his international manager, and his rise to prominence was capped when he signed a contract extension to keep him at Ibrox until the summer of 2027.

“I’m just trying to take as much experience out of it as possible,” McCausland added.

“It’s hard to put it into words because it’s something I have dreamt of as a kid, growing up a Rangers fan. It’s surreal but I’m enjoying it.

“Dreaming of wearing the Rangers jersey, it’s a big thing and finally putting it on is amazing.

“Coming in, it’s always surreal. Every single day is a bit like, ‘wow’ and you’re always taken aback by it.”

After being spotted at Chimney Corner, McCausland moved to Ballymena United academy before moving to Linfield. He caught the eye of the Rangers scouts and earned a move to the SPL giants as a 16-year-old in 2019.

“You ultimately put all your eggs into one basket with football. Obviously it does take a lot of dedication,” McCausland said.

“My family have been on my journey with me and it probably wouldn’t have been possible without them.

“It’s countless days after school, you are out on your own for hours – rain, hail or snow. Just simple things like that, you might be in the gym, it all comes into play when you get that step up into first-team football.”

The Steven Davis effect

As with many young footballers in Northern Ireland, they grow up idolising international captain Davis, who is in his second spell with Rangers.

After an ACL injury last December put him on the sidelines, Davis was named interim manager of the Glasgow giants when former boss Michael Beale left the club in October.

Davis handed McCausland his European debut and the youngster has now established himself as a key first-team player under Clement, who he says has “been really good with me”.

McCausland said having the trust of Davis “was amazing” and his Rangers journey and Northern Ireland bow stems from that moment.

“It all comes from when Davo gives me the nod. I appreciate it all,” McCausland added.

“Having him there, as a person in general, it is amazing to have him to look up to. With his experience and what he has achieved, not just with his club but worldwide.

“He’s a great guy and whenever I was stemming up at Rangers I didn’t see as much of him because I wasn’t around the first-team at this point.

“When he was interim manager he was telling me to do what I had been doing in training and play with confidence.

“I tried to listen to that and play with a bit of confidence and a bit of directness.”

Ross McCausland in action for Northern Ireland against Finland
Ross McCausland made his Northern Ireland debut against Finland in November

McCausland was handed his first Northern Ireland start by O’Neill a week after his first start in a Rangers shirt and the winger said he was “buzzing”.

“It was another dream of mine to pull on that Northern Ireland jersey.

“I probably didn’t expect it to come so soon but I loved every minute of it. It was amazing.”

After breaking into the first-team, McCausland will be aiming to win his first trophy with the club in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final with Aberdeen.

“It would be icing on the cake,” McCausland added. “At a club like Rangers you look to win every trophy we can.

“There is obviously going to be pressure on you from the fans to have an impact on the games. I’m just trying to do that in every game.

“To be honest, I haven’t really noticed any pressure because I just try and play my own game because I believe in myself.

“Every footballer needs to be confident. That’s one of the big things I would rely on in terms of myself.

“Coming off the back of the last few weeks, my confidence is high at the minute and I think it gets better in training with the players I’m training with. I’m trying to keep doing well in the games.”

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