IF Bala Devi ever gets round to writing a book, her first nine months in Scotland will merit a chapter of their own. Nothing could have prepared the Indian internationalist, who turned 30 in February, for her introduction to professional football on a new continent.

Rangers signed her on an 18 month contract in January, having been impressed when Devi came over for trials two months earlier. She set up the first goal for Megan Bell in a 3-0 win over Hearts on February 23, but that opening game of the planned 2020 Scottish Building Society SWPL1 campaign has been erased from the record books due to the season being declared null and void.

Rangers, like other clubs, are playing a low key friendly today which will be their first game since the beginning of March. The start of the lockdown left Devi living alone in a Glasgow flat – the silence and isolation being all the more marked when the four team-mates with whom she shares the property returned to their own countries.

A younger, less robust, woman might have been overwhelmed at being left alone amidst the worst public health emergency of our lifetimes. Had there been any prospect of returning to family and friends in Manipur, a state in the north-east of India which is some 5000 miles from Glasgow as the jet flies?

“Initially I wanted to go home, but India shut the borders and I didn't have an option,” Devi replied in a Zoom interview call. “After a couple of weeks I realised it would be better to stay in Scotland, as India was worse (for Covid-19 cases) than the UK.”

The consolation was being able to speak to, and see, her family on phone calls through the usual channels, with Rangers also providing the necessary support.

“Like everybody else that initial lockdown period was hard for Bala, especially with the uncertainty of it all,” women's and girls' football manager Amy McDonald confirmed. “But she committed to a structure and routine which included yoga – she's a really grounded person.”

The player posted pictures on social media training on her own in the city's Kelvingrove Park. As the first Indian women's player to go abroad and sign a professional contract, Devi remains determined to be a pioneer and inspiration for young women in her country - just as her friend and national men's team captain Sunil Chhetri was when he moved to the United States and Portugal.

An international tournament in Spain, which provided the opportunity for the India women's team to play in Europe for the first time, provided the motivation. “I saw the level of teams in Spain and thought I could compete,” Devi said of the 2018 and 2019 COTIF Cups.

“I want to be someone future generations can look up to and realise they don't have to be confined to playing in India. I'm hoping to set the standard.”

Devi, whose elevated sportswoman status meant she was employed by the Manipur police service but only required for ceremonial duties as well as playing for their team, has an international scoring ratio which is similar to Julie Fleeting's. The latter scored 116 in 121 games; the Indian attacker has 52 from 58.

The low number of matches is despite an international debut at the age of 15 in 2005. The reason she hasn't racked up over 100 caps, as several Scotland players with similar playing spans have done, is because the opportunities haven't been there.

“India only play about three of four matches a year,” Devi explained. “There have been 65 since I started, and I've only missed seven.”

Despite her very high scoring ratio, the player is not an out-and-out striker. “No 10,” she replied without hesitation when asked about her favourite position. “Vision more than goals is my main asset.”

Assuming the SWPL season restarts as scheduled on October 18, Devi faces stiff competition for a starting place in the Rangers team. Sonia O'Neill, another overseas recruit, plays in her position, as does Kirsten Reilly, while yet another No 10, Sam Kerr, is due to arrive from Glasgow City.

This intense competition is in marked contrast to India where Devi was the dominant player. “In Scotland there is more team work, aggression, fighting spirit and faster play,” the forward, who has been re-united with her flat-mates, pointed out.

“Rangers is a fully professional team training five days a week, as opposed to the amateur one I played in back home. I'm pushing myself to be better than I have been for the last 15 years.”