A NINE-year-old boy with Shetland connections is celebrating after landing a youth contract with Glasgow football giants Rangers.
Jake Frame is the stepson of Craig Gerty, a Shetlander who moved south to pursue new avenues in 2014.
Craig said budding goalie Jake is “over the moon” – adding that seeing him sign the contract was “one of the proudest days of me and his mum’s lives”.
The twist in the story is that both Jake and his stepdad are fans of rival team Celtic – but neither are letting that get in the way of the massive opportunity.
Jake also attracted interest from teams like Motherwell, Hearts and Hamilton but he held out in the hope of an offer from Rangers.
The youngster was first scouted by Rangers aged six when playing for his local boys’ team in Hamilton.
Craig – a keen footballer himself who previously represented Shetland in the Island Games – first met Jake when he was nearly four.
“I said to his mum I wanted to get him involved with football,” he said, adding that Jake had not been exposed to the sport much before then.
“I took him out to the park every day and when he turned five, I found him a team in Hamilton.
“I volunteered to help coach and became one of his coaches. He took an obsession to play in goals, so he moved up an age group to play in goals.”
Fast forward to Monday 13 December – the day Jake signed a pro youth contract with Rangers in the ornate surroundings of Ibrox Stadium.
“I always dreamt this as a kid,” Craig said, “but the opportunities in Shetland aren’t the same, hence why I moved south.”
The one-year contract, which will start in January 2022, will involve training three nights a week and a game at the weekend.
“They work on him, like improving weaknesses and they have a personal programme,” Craig said.
“We are going to take it one year at a time. When they get to 12 they offer them private schools or sport related performance schools.”
Progressing through the youth ranks to a professional adult contract at the top level is notoriously difficult, but perhaps Jake can take inspiration from the likes of Rangers and Scotland right-back Nathan Patterson, who advanced through the club’s academy.
Jake meanwhile has been to Shetland once before, and there were plans to take him back north again to train with Lerwick Thistle but this never happened due to the Covid pandemic.
Thistle was Craig’s team in his senior days, during which time he bagged a place in the Shetland football team squad for the 2009 Island Games in Aaland.
“I played up in Shetland since I was nine years old,” he said.
“I started off at Lerwick Thistle under 11s then played for Lerwick Spurs under 13s all the way through to under 18s. Then I left Spurs to back to Thistle when I was 18.”
It is fair to say playing for Lerwick Thistle under 11s – as noble as it is – is a far cry from inking a youth deal with Rangers.
Jake was also given a look around the team’s bulging trophy room at Ibrox Stadium.
Craig said it capped off an “amazing year” for his family.
“There was Jake signing his first pro contract, and we added baby Finley who is nearly nine months to the family.”
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