Now, they are being given the chance to be re-born in the USA.
Only a select few of the most promising talents ever make the first-team grade, with many finding the door closed on a life as a professional footballer before they have started.
During his own 16-year playing career, Ricky Gillies spanned the leagues, turning out for clubs from St Mirren to Stranraer, but he has not opted for a quiet retirement.
His Soccer Innovations company gives aspiring youngsters a second chance, taking them to the United States to learn the game and earn qualifications through the college system.
The Stateside scheme has produced players such as former Rangers stars Claudio Reyna, Maurice Edu and Carlos Bocanegra, but there is a Scottish star Gillies' players can look to for inspiration.
"Davie Weir is probably the best example of what we are trying to do," Gillies told SportTimes.
"I was talking with Gerry Britton and he was saying that when Davie was released as a youngster and said he was going to America, Gerry told him 'if you go to America, that is your career finished'.
"We had a laugh about it, just look at how it has worked out.
"He went to America, came back to Scotland and went from strength to strength in his career.
"I have spoken to Davie about his experiences. He is what we are looking for, we would love a Davie Weir.
"We would love to be able to send someone over who makes an impact in the MLS and eventually ends up playing for the national team.
"That would probably never have happened for him if he had stayed in Scotland."
The chance to forge a career across the pond will not be for everyone, of course, with a range of criteria needing to be met before players can pack their bags and leave Scotland.
As well as being up to the task on the field, players must have the academic accolades to be able to make the grade in Stateside colleges.
The Soccer Innovations scheme has received high- profile backing, with Ronald de Boer, Graham Dorrans and Mike Newell all ambassadors of the programme.
A group of aspiring players took part in a friendly with a Partick Thistle youth side yesterday as they attempt to impress and clinch a move.
One man Gillies has assisting him in the scheme is Darren McGeouch, the ex-Morton midfielder and brother of Celtic starlet Dylan.
After being released from Cappielow in the summer, McGeouch has found his options limited and Gillies is keen to avoid similar scenarios unfolding in years to come as he gives players a second chance.
He said: "If Darren was 17, this option of going to America would be on his radar. At 22, he is a bit lost. He has got no work experience in the real world, he has been in football for several years and that is all he has known.
"He is still young and there are many players like him in a similar position. You should follow your dream but you shouldn't give up everything to do it.
"It is a real option for players to continue playing football and also get an education. The percentage of players who enter the game and make enough money to set them up for life is extremely small.
"We help them get into the American system and they then get their degree in four years.
"Some might stay there but if they come back, we will put them into clubs and talk to managers about them and they might kickstart their career.
"If it doesn't work out, they still have an education to fall back on. It is so important for players to think long term."