25 April 18
Glenn Middleton living the dream at Rangers but the winger still has plenty of ambitions to achieve at Ibrox
GLENN Middleton felt he had no choice but to fly the coop when he left the Canaries. Now, Ibrox is home sweet home for the lifelong Bear.
A decade after he departed Scotland as his father, Duncan, moved south due to work commitments, the winger is back where his love affair with the game started.
A stint at Northampton was followed by a six-year spell with Norwich but it is the deal that took him to Ibrox in January that has kick-started Middleton’s career.
The memories of his time in the stands are still vivid for Middleton – Dado Prso was his favourite player and Maurice Edu’s Old Firm winner stands out – but his focus is now on the future and writing his own chapters in Light Blue.
“I am loving it. I am coming in every day and just getting on with my football so I am a lot happier and I am enjoying it a lot more,” he told SportTimes.
“It wasn’t that I was unhappy before. But I am coming in to work at the club I have always supported, that I have followed all my life.
“Me and my dad used to come and watch the games and now I am a Rangers player. You can’t really ask for much more.
“I was at Norwich for six years and just worked my way up. I was playing in the 23s when I was 15. I was always looking to the first team but, as can be the case in football, things don’t work out as smoothly as you would like sometimes.
“It was a case of if someone didn’t fancy you, you have to move on. You pick yourself up and you go again.”
As one door began to close, another soon opened. Rangers had been long-time admirers of Middleton’s talents and a deal wasn’t difficult to piece together.
There has been no sense of what might have been for the 18-year-old, only a determination to take two steps forward rather than one back.
Middleton said: “It wasn’t anyone in particular, it was more a feeling that I got and I wasn’t getting the opportunities that I would have liked.
“But, that is football. I will go again. It is never going to be a smooth journey all the time and you can’t just turn up for training and expect things to come easy to you. I am not like that.
“Sometimes you have to go through the hard times and I have got through those moments to get to Rangers.
“At the time, the chances weren’t happening and it wasn’t going to happen. I had sort of been told that. It was a case of dusting myself down and going somewhere else and showing what I am capable of.
“One or two opinions at one club don’t mean people at another club will have the same view.
“There are low times for players in football but coming here has certainly been one of the high moments for me. Hopefully there are many more to come.”
If the dream can become a reality for Middleton, the man who took him to Ibrox as a kid could have the chance to watch his son in action from the stands.
A quick and direct left sided forward, he played for his dad’s youth team on a Sunday morning before he was spotted and Northampton snapped him up. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I always remember my dad saying he played for Buckie Thistle when he was younger,” Middleton said. “I think that is as good as it got!
“He played Sunday league and stuff as well. I think I have beat him already!
“He knows his stuff and he is a good coach so he always gives me tips. He can be my harshest critic, but that isn’t a bad thing because you have always got things to improve on.
“It is the same with my mum, she will always chip in as well. It is nice to have that support network there.
“My family are still down south at the minute but I think they will come back up. It will be nice to be with them.
“I am just staying at digs at the minute on my own, but I have got other family around here, like my cousins and my gran and grandpa so I can go and see them on my days off.
“That made the move up a bit easier as well because it wasn’t like I was coming to a new place and somewhere I had never been before. It wasn’t a hard decision at all.”
The backing of his family has been crucial for Middleton but he is not the only figure to have a role in his development.
Ibrox boss Graeme Murty saw the Scot at close quarters during his time at Carrow Road and wasted little time in bringing him into the first team fold at Auchenhowie once the ink had dried on a two-and-a-half year deal.
He said: “It has worked out well for me and being at the club is great. Having Graeme here has made it easier to settle in but it wasn’t a hard decision to make when you are asked to sign for a club like this.
“He didn’t speak to me that much about the move but the fact that he was here and the role he had gave me confidence to come to a place like this.
“I know exactly what he is like and what the sessions are like. I haven’t been with him as much but I knew what I would be coming in to and what it could do for me.”
It may have taken Middleton some time to join the Gers but he has wasted none in making an impact at Ibrox.
The Scotland youth international has been a regular for the Under-20s in recent weeks and, on Tuesday, he was part of the side that beat Leicester 6-0 in the latest match of the new Games Programme that has been implemented this term.
Middleton said: “These games have benefitted me a lot and I have only been here a short time. It will have been even better for the other boys playing against different teams with different styles of play.
“We are playing in new environments and there are challenges that we haven’t had before that we are learning to cope with now. Hopefully when we get into European competitions we will know exactly what is coming.
It is nice to get that support from the fans and hopefully that will continue. I am a lot happier now and I am enjoying it, and that is when you play your best stuff.
“Hopefully I can keep playing well and keep making a good impression and we will see where it takes me.”
*Glenn Middleton is pictured promoting the Rangers Youth Development Company and their Rangers Lotto product.
Since 2002 RYDC profits have been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth programme - with more than £7.5 million provided in the last 16 years. RYDC also donated £250,000 to the Rangers Academy in January.
For full details on their portfolio of products – Rangers Lotto, Rising Stars, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and the Youth Members Club - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.