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‘I’ll never forget what Arbroath have done for me’: Rangers kid Ben Williamson thanks Angus club as he earns Scotland Under-21 call-up

Ben Williamson made a massive impact during his time at Arbroath
Ben Williamson made a massive impact during his time at Arbroath

There’s a signed Arbroath kit hanging on the walls of the man cave in Ben Williamson’s Fife home as a permanent reminder of his dream debut season.

The names of each of his former team-mates at Gayfield are etched on the shirt as a souvenir of a whirlwind five-month period that has been capped off with his first Scotland Under-21 call-up.

Here is an immensely talented young lad with the world at his feet – but his feet firmly planted on the ground as he tries to make the breakthrough at Rangers.

He has been with the Gers for 12 years and ended the season training with the first-team, earning words of encouragement from Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard before his shock Scotland call-up.

But the five months he spent at Arbroath last season, where he was named the club’s Young Player of the Year, will live with him for the rest of his career.

Ben Williamson made a major impact during his five-month stint at Arbroath

Williamson showed maturity beyond his 19 years during 18 tenacious midfield displays to help the Angus side clinch their third successive year in the Championship.

There’s every chance that autograph hunters will soon be seeking Williamson’s signature but his heroes are the players he has just left behind.

“I’ll never forget the time I spent at Arbroath,” said Williamson. “They gave me my first chance to show what I could do.

“Every single player and person at the club has had a positive impact on me.

“The Arbroath strip I wore is signed by them all. It’s framed and hanging up on the man cave wall.

“I’ve been texting all the Arbroath players back and forward since I left.

“They are always honest with me. They tell me what I’ve done well but they also tell me what I’ve got to improve on.

“Tam O’Brien, Ricky Little, Bobby Linn, all of them.

Inspired

“At training, Bobby was always telling me how many steps he was on for the day and it was mental.

“He’d be on 32,000 for the day and I’d look at my watch to see I’d only done 3,000!

“James Craigen sent me a text the other day that I’ll always remember.

“He said: ‘It doesn’t matter what environment you are in or who you are playing against. Focus on your own game and it will all fall into place.’

“I’ve played against some really good players in the Championship. It’s a tough league but it has given me the belief that I can kick on.

“I don’t worry about who I’m facing. I played against Charlie Adam a couple of times and it didn’t faze me.

Charlie Adam has inspired Williamson

“He’s messaged me a few times since to give me advice and I’ll take it all on board.

“I’ll also always have tremendous respect for Dick Campbell.

“He has kept in touch and he’s someone I’ll have with me for the rest of my career.

Arbroath fans

“The only thing missing was the Arbroath fans and the fact I never got the chance to play in front of them.

“I could see from social media how much the club means to them and they have been very kind to me with their messages.

“Both of my grandads have missed the football a lot this year. They normally go to every game but have watched me on Arbroath TV.”

Arbroath manager Dick Campbell has had a positive impact on Williamson’s career

Scotland call-up

Williamson found out last week he was capping off a fine season with a call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad to face Northern Ireland next month.

He is likely to be loaned out by Rangers again next term as they continue Williamson’s development but the chance to shine at international level is a big step forward.

“It was a massive shock to me,” said Williamson. “I’ve not been involved with Scotland at any level since the age of 16.

“It’s a dream come true to have the chance to represent your country and I’ll give it my very best shot.

“I don’t know what will happen at Rangers. I was back training with the first team for a couple of weeks and Steven Gerrard met with me to tell me his plans and give me advice.

“I’d love to make the breakthrough one day. Right now it’s going to be very tough to get into that Rangers midfield.

“I’ll be patient and if I go on loan somewhere again next season I’ll grab the opportunity with both hands before seeing where it takes me.”

Ben Williamson: I want to take the Charlie Adam route to hitting the big-time at Rangers

 

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