UMARO BALDE keeps in regular contact with his nearest and dearest in Portugal. Every day, he feels more and more a part of the Rangers family.

The midfielder, then just 16, made the move to Ibrox from Sporting Lisbon earlier this year. It was a big step for Balde, but one he hopes will help him stride forward in his career.

Balde may only have spent a few months in Light Blue so far, but he is settled in Glasgow and at Rangers. And he is looking forward to a bright future as he attempts to make a name for himself at the Hummel Training Centre.

Balde said: "I am enjoying it very much and I am very happy in Glasgow and at Rangers right now. The club has given me everything here.

"It was a very good move for me and a very good opportunity for my career. Rangers is a very big club and they have a good youth team so there will be very good opportunities for me.

"It is a chance I had to take. I had to leave my family in Portugal to come here and play my football in a new country at this club. I am in a new country but I am making new friends and I am very happy here at Rangers.

"I moved here myself but every day I will talk to my family. I speak with my sister, my mother, my father, my brother. I talk to them every day and they ask about Rangers. I tell them I am doing well, that I am training hard every day.

"The people here always help me and that is good for me. I am happy at Rangers and my family are happy for me. I like Rangers very much and I love living in Glasgow. It is a lovely city and the centre is beautiful."

The Gers squad that Balde joined this summer were crowned Under-18 League champions last term. That achievement brought European opportunities and Rangers have progressed in the UEFA Youth League after seeing off Young Boys in their first round tie.

Former Ibrox hero Kevin Thomson is the perfect role model for Balde at present. He takes inspiration from a current Chelsea favourite as well as he strives for improvement this term.

Balde said: "My idol in football is N'Golo Kante and I have watched him for a long time. I look up to him and he is the same position as me.

"At Rangers, I like watching Aribo and Kamara. I watch the first team games all the time and I like them. Every week I feel better and I improve because every day I train hard and I am becoming a better player with Rangers.

"I have only been in Scotland five months but I feel better and I feel good. I work hard and it is very good to play quick football here. Rangers are helping me and I am very grateful to the staff here.

"Kevin has helped me a lot and he has told me what I need to do to be a first team player at Rangers. I need to work more. Kevin has helped me play quick, two touch football and he told me I need this or I need this.

"Every day I work hard and he helps me a lot. I have watched videos of Kevin and I saw him against Celtic. He talks about that goal!

"He is very good to work with. I hope we can win the Under-18 League and qualify again for the Champions League."

*Rangers Academy midfielder Umaro Balde is pictured promoting Rangers Lotto for the Rangers Youth Development Company.

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