OPPORTUNITY emerged out of adversity for James Maxwell. As one door closed, another opened.

A couple of seasons ago, the left-back had his sights set on a first team berth at Falkirk. Now, though, it is Steven Gerrard's squad he is trying to become part of and a Rangers jersey he is attempting to earn.

When the Bairns made the shock decision to fold their successful youth system in December 2017, Maxwell was one of a host of kids that faced an uncertain future.

That call has backfired spectacularly on Falkirk and the club now find themselves in League One after a disastrous spell on and off the park.


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Maxwell has picked himself up from the disappointment, recovered from the setback and is now impressing at the Hummel Training Centre.

"I was at Ayr for five years after starting at Under-10s and then my family moved to Falkirk so I joined them," he said. "At Under-17s, Falkirk decided to scrap the Academy so I was a free transfer.

"Rangers invited me in for a couple of weeks. There were a few other clubs interested, but when I got the call I was set on here and obviously it has worked out really well. I am delighted to be here.

"It wasn’t nice finding out in the papers that the team was scrapped. I wanted to make my mark at Falkirk and get into the first team there, but it has worked out well for me in the end.

"I have come to a bigger club and I have chances here as well. I am delighted with how it has unfolded but it wasn’t nice at the time.

"You found out through the papers, it was uncertain and the boys in the team didn’t know what they were doing. It wasn’t a nice experience.

"If I look at it now, it has worked out well for me but that wasn’t the case for all the boys unfortunately.

"Without Falkirk making that decision, I might not have got the opportunity to come here and experience Rangers. It has worked out well for me but it wasn’t ideal for other boys. Sometimes these things happen and it is just meant to be."

Having shown enough promise to be rewarded with a deal at Ibrox, Maxwell has spent recent months aiming to catch the eye.


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He was part of the Development Squad that were impressive 4-3 winners over Ajax last month as the Gers continued their Games Programme at youth level.

And the 17-year-old is confident the schedule this term will bring out the best in those on the fringes of Gerrard's squad.

Maxwell said: "We were 4-0 up and had played really well but they brought on some very good players and I think we were a bit fatigued after 70 minutes with the heat and what we had put into the game. When it went to 4-3, we were holding on for the win but thankfully we were able to see it out.

"The tests you get here are different to the ones you get abroad and we have seen the challenges of the likes of Motherwell or Kilmarnock.

"After a couple of years, we know all about these teams and how to play against them so it is definitely good to get a fresh challenge. Ajax will pose different problems to an English team or one from Germany and that definitely helps me when you come up against a different style.

"We are not going to dominate every game, especially against these big teams. Here, we would dominate most of the games. It is definitely a good challenge, it has been beneficial already, and I know all of the boys are looking forward to some of the games coming up.

"It can only help playing against better players and better teams and you are learning all the time. You see what they do compared to yourself and teams here and it is a great experience.


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"You don’t want to go into first team games blind, so this is certainly something that sets you up for that transition to that level."

It has been another summer of change at Rangers as Gerrard has added further strength and depth to his squad for the upcoming challenges at home and abroad.

The 39-year-old is keen to involve the top talents from the Academy and reap the long-term benefits.

Maxwell said: "Training with the first team gives you a real motivation, it refreshes you, and you see how much work you need to put in to get to their level.

"It is hard to get round and be with the first team and you have to earn it.

"Once you are there, you need to prove yourself. You need to prove yourself every day in here.

"It is great to be round there but once you have been once you want to do it as often as you can."

*Since 2002, RYDC profits have been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth programme - with almost £8 million provided so far.

For full details on RYDC’s growing portfolio of products – the re-launched Rangers Pools, Rangers Lotto, the Union Jackpot half-time draw, Scratchcards and Stadium Bricks - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.