ROCKY MCMILLAN has seen enough young players - from those with two left feet to England internationalists - to know when a kid has the ability and the mentality to make it to the top of the game.

When the chairman of Glebe FC watched Zak Lovelace, it wasn't just his physical stature that made him stand out. The striker has something special and McMillan is not surprised to see him tipped for the highest level.

The likes of Emile Smith Rowe, the Arsenal and England star, Brentford's Ethan Pinnock and former Premiership striker Lyle Taylor have all passed through the doors of Foxbury Avenue over the last two decades.

From those humble beginnings in the youth ranks of a club that operate in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division, Lovelace can now dream of silverware and European football after opting to leave Millwall and join Rangers.

Lovelace scored 26 goals in 15 appearances for Glebe in their Kent Youth League title winning campaign during the 2018-19 season. Last term, after a strike rate of 21 goals from 19 appearances in the Millwall youth side, he made his Championship debut in a win over Coventry City as he became the second youngest player in Lions' history.

Ibrox will be the next stage for him to shine on. For McMillan, the sky is the limit for a striker who has turned down Premier League advances to attempt to realise his dreams under the guidance of Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the coming years.

"Zak was with us at Under-13s, so we are going back three seasons now, and he was very prolific," McMillan told Herald and Times Sport. "His scoring record was very impressive and he was a big, physical boy for his age.

"We used to play him up a year because he was so developed and strong and it was obvious even then that he had a very special talent. He went to a couple of academies prior to going to Millwall, I think he had time at Charlton and Brighton.

"He ended up at Millwall and that reached a crescendo last season when he came on to become their second youngest ever player. For a club like ourselves, it is fantastic when our talent moves on and does well.

"Zak was quite late going into an academy and he probably joined them at Under-14s. Zak always stood out straight away.

"When you see them at that age and look at them, the ones that stand out just totally dominate matches. That was Zak.

"Some guys do it at eight, nine or ten. Zak was doing it as a 12-year-old playing up age levels, just totally dominating the game with his physical attributes and his natural finishing ability.

"The guy has got a raw strength, an unbelievable strength, and even in the year above he was shrugging people off him.

"He has a willingness to learn and take things on board and he has got excellent parental support from his dad as well."

A move to Millwall three years ago set Lovelace on the road to first team action. Boss Gary Rowett had to get permission from his parents and school to include him in the squad for the match with Coventry and the forward would also appear against Sheffield United, Reading and Middlesbrough last term.

The record of Millwall's youngest ever played is still held by one-time Ibrox striker Moses Ashikodi. Time will tell if Lovelace can make more of an impact in Light Blue after opting to leave The New Den this summer.

His record and his list of suitors speaks for itself. Rangers have won the race for his signature and must now help the prodigious talent make the most of his potential.

"We had another lad this year who went down to Southampton, we have one, Ethan Pinnock, playing for Brentford in the Premier League," McMillan said.

"Emile Smith Rowe came through at Arsenal after training with us at eight or nine and there are players playing in the Football League.

"But for Zak to get to a prestigious club like Rangers, who were in the final of the Europa League last season, is a magnificent achievement for him. It is a great for us to see him doing so well and I wish him all the best up there.

"Once the lads leave, a lot of them stay in touch with us. Some give us shirts to put up in the Clubhouse and we like to keep in touch.

"Zak is only 16 so it might take him time to get into the first team and Rangers have a proven goal scorer in Alfredo Morelos there as well obviously.

"But Rangers obviously see something in him and feel that they can nurture him. If they have done a deal for him, they must like him and hopefully he can go on to realise his potential there."

The move to Ibrox represents a life-changing, career-defining decision for Lovelace and for those closest to him and it is a significant coup for Rangers to have secured his services. It will now be up to the Auchenhowie staff to nurture him into the player it is hoped he can be.

McMillan saw Lovelace start out on his journey. Like so many others who have pulled on the colours of the Chislehurst-based club, he will now watch on with pride and excitement as a career unfolds.

McMillan said: "We have got around 500 players and, for us, it is great when they all enjoy our national game and love the game.

"As a club, we say that if they want to play football then they can do that here. If they have got two left feet, we will provide football for them.

"You then go into teams at County level and some younger players go into the academy systems. When you get the icing on the cake and lads get a pro contract, that is phenomenal.

"Last week, one of our lads got a two-year YTS at Colchester and he is only 16. We seem to be doing the right thing because we have kids progressing to professional clubs, which has got to be the aim of every young player that wants to play at a senior level.

"We never hold them back, if they have the ability and are too good for us then we wish them well. There is a bit of pride there.

"Myself and my wife founded this club 27 years ago and there are a lot of players that are in non-league or National League and then some that are higher than that.

"When someone makes that breakthrough at a club, or like Zak going into a massive club in Scotland like Rangers, you have to take pride in that."