Ben Williamson, Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson.
Three teenagers, three pathways, one dream.
Gilmour is a newly-crowned Champions League winner with Chelsea in the thick of Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad with Patterson, who lifted this season’s Scottish Premiership with Rangers.
Williamson has just capped off a fine season on loan at Arbroath from Rangers, netting on his Scotland Under-21 debut.
Champions League winner – Billy Gilmour
The trio started out together in the Ibrox club’s youth ranks and all three have incredibly bright futures in the game with Gilmour and Patterson shining a torch on Williamson’s road to glory.
Williamson had to pinch himself 11 days ago as he tuned in to watch Gilmour lifting the Champions League.
And he’ll watch with interest as his boyhood pals try to make a major impact on the Euros, hoping to join them on the big stage one day soon.
CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE 💙💙💙 pic.twitter.com/GWOQaIPWPe
— Billy Gilmour (@billygilmourrr) May 29, 2021
“It’s mental to see the level Billy Gilmour has jumped to,” said Williamson. “I always knew he was a bit special when he was at Rangers. We all did.
“He made a very brave decision at 16 to go down to London.
“It was a big risk but it’s clearly paid off for him as he has just won the Champions League.
“It’s something he’ll take in his stride. Nothing goes to his head. All he ever wants to do is get better and better and he’ll keep on doing it.
Nathan Patterson’s pathway to success
“It’s the same with Nathan. He has worked so hard to get to where he is – playing regularly with Rangers and earning a Scotland call-up for the Euros and I’m absolutely delighted for both of them.
“Watching them succeed gives me huge motivation.
“You often hear people say there is no pathway for younger players to make it to the top.
“Billy and Nathan have proven there IS a pathway and it’s one I want to get on too.
“I’ve done it different from them by going on loan to Arbroath but it was the best decision I could ever make.
“It worked out so well for me this year. It has made me a better player and given me the belief to kick on in my career.
“To finish the season by playing and scoring for Scotland under-21s is amazing. I’m truly buzzing about it all.”
Ben Williamson’s Scotland Under-21 impact
Williamson, 19, netted a stunning 18-yard effort in the Scotland Under-21s’ 3-2 win over Northern Ireland last weekend.
As international bows go, it was almost the perfect afternoon for Williamson, with the only thing missing being his football-daft family.
He’s now targeting a place in the Under-21 squad to travel to Turkey in September but, for the moment, is revelling in the glory of his debut strike.
“I was absolutely buzzing after my goal,” added Williamson, 19. “I’m just gutted that no-one from my family was there to see it.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 6, 2021
“There was no coverage, not even a stream that my family could watch.
“I could have gone home to tell them I was the best player on the pitch by a mile but they wouldn’t have believed me!
“I went to the video analyst straight after the game and asked for a clip of my goal to send to my dad.
“Without my family I wouldn’t be here. My grandad would have love to have seen me with a Scotland shirt on.
“My dad and brother Robbie have always driven me through from Dunfermline to Glasgow, sometimes via my performance school in Edinburgh.
“I’d never have the chance to make it without their help.
“I’ve had great support from Arbroath too since my goal. Bobby Linn sent me a voice message congratulating me and telling me to keep my barnet on!”
One of Williamson’s biggest qualities is his attitude.
It’s a trait that was highlighted in Chelsea’s recent video documentary on Gilmour, saluting their ‘everyday hero.’
How far can Williamson go?
Gilmour and Patterson have clearly shown that talent mixed with hard work can pay off – and Williamson wants to join them.
The journey began at the same place for the 19-year-olds – Rangers’ youth team – and while there have been diversions there’s no reason to suggest Williamson can’t join them.
He left Arbroath having played every single league game during a five-month loan stint, having been named Young Player of the Year and he’s highly-rated by Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.
“Ability? Ben’s got that in abundance,” said Arbroath manager Dick Campbell. “But do you know what I really, really like about him?
“His attitude. In his first training session with us none of his gear matched but he didn’t care about that, he just wanted to get out there and get stuck in.
“Then when he left he wrote the club the most amazing thank-you letter.
“There aren’t many 19-year-olds in any walk of life who think to do that but that sums Ben up for me.
“If he keeps his head down and works hard he’ll go far in the game.”