“Messi is his nickname” said Arbroath manager Dick Campbell as Dylan Paterson made his debut for the Gayfield side.
“He’s got real talent. He’s wee so is very similar to Messi in terms of stature. I hope he has half his ability.”
Campbell loves a superlative but doesn’t freely lavish praise on his players.
He knows has a potentially explosive talent on his hands with Paterson but realises the diminutive midfielder needs handled with care.
Paterson spent nine years at Rangers and grew up in the same midfield as Chelsea and Scotland superstar Billy Gilmour.
But while it has been a smooth journey to success for Gilmour, it has been a rocky road for Paterson.
Paterson quit Gers at 16 to sign for Dundee United before giving up the game for a spell.
Tragic loss of brother was major setback for Paterson
He suffered shattering news last April as his big brother Jack died suddenly in a tragic accident.
Paterson returned to the game with Junior side Bo’ness Athletic and was scouted by Arbroath.
Two-footed, quick, direct and blessed with an abundance of creative flair there is no doubt that an on-form Paterson will excite fans at Gayfield this year.
And with a quiet determination that ‘this is his time’, Paterson is ready to begin his own journey to the top.
“I’m just getting back into football,” said Paterson. “It’s time for me to enjoy it and work hard. Hopefully the rewards will come from that.
“Dick Campbell has given me a tremendous opportunity to play and I can’t thank him enough.
“The last year has been tough, very tough.
“My brother passed away in April and, along with my family, I went through a very hard time.
“Football helps. It’s good for me to go out there, perform and try to put a smile on their faces.
We are very excited to introduce you to our new midfielder, Dylan Paterson
Dylan, who came through the youth ranks at Rangers has caught the eye of many clubs with his creativity + eye for goal.
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) June 24, 2021
“Every day is hard but football drives me on and keeps me going.
“My brother played amateur football. He was a very good player, left-sided like me and he loved a tackle.
“I want to do well for him and my family.”
Inspired by Billy Gilmour’s midfield masterclass at Wembley
Paterson’s football journey began at seven as he was picked up by Rangers.
He fondly remembers his three years alongside Gilmour in the Gers midfield and watched on in delight as his former team-mate turned into Wembley wizard with a man-of-the-match display for Scotland against England at Euro 2020.
“Billy used to give the ball to me and I would score the goals,” joked Paterson.
“He was a great player, a real example. His attitude was always spot on and I was so proud of him for what he did at Wembley.
“He was a team-mate for three years and a good friend of mine. He was excellent against England.
“The way he collected the ball and never panicked shows that he’s a quality player.
Bo’ness helped Paterson career on track
** ATHLETIC TO ARBROATH **
The Club is absolutely delighted to announce that Dylan Paterson has transferred to SPFL Championship side, @ArbroathFC.
— Bo’ness Athletic FC (@BonessAthletic) June 24, 2021
“I joined Rangers when I was seven and was there for nine years. I left for Dundee United.
“This is my first season back because I stopped playing for a while.
“Bo’ness gave me a chance but I only managed three games before Covid ended the season.
“I like to get on the ball and make things happen.
“I’d love to give the Arbroath fans something to cheer about and hope I can win a place in the team.”