GIVEN the hot water he landed himself in when he was caught breaching Covid-19 lockdown regulations back in February, it was perhaps no surprise that Rangers right back Nathan Patterson got a nasty fright when his manager Steven Gerrard texted early one morning last month asking to have a word.

His mind raced. What infraction had he committed this time? Having been forced to self-isolate for 10 days, miss a massive European match and then serve a four game SFA ban along with four of his team mates after attending an illegal gathering in a flat in Glasgow, he immediately feared the worst.

Fortunately for Patterson, though, Gerrard had far more pleasant tidings.

The uncapped 19-year-old was, despite only making 16 first team appearances at senior level in two seasons, being called into the Scotland squad for the Euro 2020 finals.  

“I was in my house and the gaffer at Rangers phoned me,” he said from the national team’s tournament training base in the north-east of England yesterday. “I wasn’t really up at the time. We were all done by then. A few of the boys were away seeing their family and that and I was just sitting in the house. 

“He just texted me and said: “Can we have a wee chat?” I was like: 'What have I done now?' He said: 'Look you are in the squad, it will be announced later today, congratulations.' I didn’t have a clue what was going on. As I said, I was not really up at the time

“Then it sunk in a wee bit. I then told my mum and dad and everybody was buzzing for me. It was just brilliant. I texted him (Gerrard) later on and said: ‘Thanks for the message! I was not really up at the time’.”

It was another euphoric high in what has been a remarkable rollercoaster season that will serve the gifted youngster well in what promises to be a long and distinguished professional career in the years to come.

Patterson, who made his Scotland debut in the pre-Euro 2020 friendly against Luxembourg on Sunday, has shown why so many in the game in this country have predicted that great things lie ahead for him with his performances for Rangers this term. But there have been some dark moments too.

Watching Ibrox captain and fellow right back James Tavernier limp off in the first-half of the Europa League last 32 match against Royal Antwerp in Belgium when he was in quarantine at home and realising he had blown his chance to be involved in such a massive game due to his Covidiocy, was one of them.   

“It is probably the most down I have been in my life,” he said. “I was sitting with my mum and dad. There wasn’t really much said. They had already said what had to be said. That was it really. But I thought to myself: ‘I will get another opportunity. It is not the end of my career. I will work hard and when I get there. I will take my opportunity’. I done that. I showed what I can do on the pitch.”

He certainly did. Patterson netted an outstanding individual goal in the second leg of the Antwerp double header just 16.6 seconds after replacing Leon Balogun at the start of the second-half and then helped Rangers record an emphatic 5-2 victory. “Aye, 16 seconds,” he said. “Not too bad!” 

The defender felt he had let so many people, his family, his friends, his manager, his team mates, supporters, down with his carelessness and was pleased to go some way towards making amends. The teenager is indebted to those who showed him support at a time when he was being publicly castigated. He is confident he has learned from the unfortunate episode. 

“Everyone makes mistakes,” he said. “That was a clear mistake on my behalf. I was at a young age, especially in this era when you have a lot of social media and pressure on you. I had good support especially from Rangers and my family. I have good coaching staff who have stuck behind me and it has stood me in good stead. 

“I just got my head down and we all worked through it together. That’s why we are a family. There’s no point in keeping going on about the bad stuff when you can look forward to the good stuff and that’s where I am today.

“No matter what happened you are always going to have pressure when you play for the first team. Obviously I had extra pressure. But I enjoy playing under pressure because it makes you want to play better. That did help of course, but playing well as well and I thought keep working, and keep doing well, and I will get to where I am.”

Patterson confessed that facing Gerrard for the first time after his coronavirus lockdown breach had been daunting. But he lavished praise on the former Liverpool and England midfielder for his understanding and unstinting backing.  

“When it all came out it wasn’t a great time and I was worried for myself and for everyone else,” he said. “It was when we back into the training ground, that’s when we were spoken to. Obviously it wasn’t a great conversation, but it had to be done and we’ve moved on from it and we’ve got a great relationship.

“The gaffer was great. He just told me straight and said to me: ‘Look, everyone makes mistakes’. He said he’s made mistakes before in his own life but that it’s all about how you bounce back. You just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I totally agree with him. Obviously, I had to go out there and make it up to the fans and I felt as if I did that.

“He’s a great manager and he came through the youth system at Liverpool and went on to win just about everything. He’s done it all and I just want to kind of emulate him. Because he came through the youth system he knows what it’s like to be a young player at a big club. That’s why it’s great to have him as my gaffer.

“Look, I’m young. I’m not making that an excuse or a reason for why I did it. I shouldn’t have done it. But I’m moving on now and I’m going to learn from it. I won’t make any more mistakes like that again in my career. In a way I’m almost glad that it all happened so early as I can put it behind me and focus on the football now.”

It was no surprise to Patterson that Gerrard was one of the first to contact him when he made his bow for Scotland as a second-half substitute at the weekend.

“After my debut he messaged me saying congratulations,” he said. “Quite a lot of the staff did as well and it’s good to have that kind of support from your club and country.

“You can go in and speak to him no matter what time of day it is. His door is always open so you can go in to speak to him if you’re not feeling yourself or if you just want to have a chat with him. But, yes, he’s a great gaffer who always looks to do the best for his players.”