Resilience is in-built with the Souttar family. They have had no other choice.

An invaluable trait when paired with talent, yet one that has been forged through struggle, setbacks and the cruellest of tragedies. The summer of 2022 was supposed to be one of celebration: John’s long-awaited move to Rangers had finally arrived, boosted by his emerging status as a Scotland regular.

Within weeks, though, the centre-back found himself returning to the treatment table and facing a long, achingly familiar road back to the pitch. It was a nightmare scenario for a player who had already fought through more than his fair share of fitness problems. But football, injuries, winning and losing? All of it matters the world, until suddenly one day it doesn’t.

Souttar’s brother Aaron - a son, husband, and young father – died aged just 42 last July after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease. Aaron was Souttar’s hero growing up. Now, he is his inspiration.

“That puts everything into perspective for me and my brother [Harry],” Souttar said. “The injuries that he [Aaron] went through compared to us and there wasn’t one day where he sat and complained about anything in life.

“So, for us to go through a football injury – how could we complain about anything when he’s sitting there still laughing and joking? Every day we would look at him and think, ‘how can he go through this and not complain for two years?’ Yeah, we’ve got a bad knee or a bad Achilles but we couldn’t complain when he was going through that.”

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Souttar joined younger sibling Harry in getting a permanent tribute to Aaron, a tattoo to make sure he’ll always be there with them, on and off the pitch.

“When Harry got his I was going for an operation or there or thereabouts as we were going to get them done together,” Souttar said. “So, I finally got the chance to get it. It’s just something for him to always be there and be with you.

“He was there when I signed for Rangers and was absolutely buzzing, came in the Blue Room and things like that. Now he’ll always be with me – and Harry too – for every big moment in our lives.

“He was my hero growing up. Still is. He was both our heroes really. He’s in our thoughts every day and everything we do is to make him proud.”

Flourishing at Rangers would make him proudest of all, and Souttar finally feels he is ready for a proper crack at it. He arrived at Ibrox with an ankle problem sustained while still at Hearts, and broke down on the first day of the Premiership season at Livingston.

“The last six months have been difficult,” the 26-year-old admitted. “Signing for Rangers, you have all these expectations in your head for how it’s going to go. Then obviously it didn’t pan out that way for one reason or another at the start, carrying on with Scotland and bringing an injury into camp.

“So, at the start of pre-season I was always playing catch-up and unfortunately the injury took a bit longer than I’d hoped for. But now I feel brilliant. I’ve been back training three or four weeks now and feeling class. I’m just looking forward to properly starting my Rangers career.”

But should he have played that first day at Livi?

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“Looking back, I probably should have been a bit more honest,” Souttar said. “But when you sign for a club like Rangers you just feel like you’re going to play. You’re probably not 100 per cent honest with the medical staff as you’re coming here and want to show everyone what you can bring to the club.

“It’s just in my character to play through these sorts of things. Looking back, I should have said not to play but that’s my character. That’s what I am and what I bring to the game.”

The former Dundee United youth now wants to repay Rangers’ faith in his ability. Connor Goldson and Ben Davies have established themselves as the manager Michael Beale’s go-to defensive partnership, but Souttar is adamant he is here to play.

“I just want to be the best player I can for Rangers and to play as many games as I can for the club and for Scotland,” he insisted. “Everything I do day to day, every time I step on to the training pitch, is to do that. That will always be the case. Just leave nothing out on the training pitch and do everything I can to be as good a player as I can.

“Now I just feel that I’m playing football for the first time in a while without any concerns about how my body is or having to manage my body. I just feel 100 per cent and that’s a massive relief for me. Now I just want to repay the club for bringing me here.”

Perhaps the one positive to draw from having taken so many knocks is knowing this too shall pass It’s no exaggeration to say Souttar has overcome injuries which may have ended the career of others, and he does feel stronger for it.

“It definitely helped me,” he said. “It was just another obstacle to come over. It definitely makes you stronger being out for that period of time because it’s mentally frustrating. Especially when you’re joining a new club and you want to show everyone what you can bring and the attributes that you’ve got.

“And when you’re sitting on the sidelines watching the boys play in the Champions League and in Old Firm games, things you’ve dreamed about since you were a kid and why you came to the club, was difficult. But it just gives you more appetite to work hard and do everything positive to get back to a good standard.”

Watching brother Harry represent Australia at the Qatar World Cup was surely another source of motivation. Now at Leicester City in the Premier League, he too has endured some rotten luck, and spent a year out with an ACL injury. Souttar insists he deserves every reward that is now coming his way.

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“That was amazing to watch him do what he did after being out for a year,” he said. “He had two games for his club then came back and played like that. It was incredible. I was so proud watching him. It was an incredible achievement for anyone to do that, never mind it was my brother. All the family were over in Qatar.

“I never got out myself as I was doing my rehab but to watch it from home was unbelievable. He was incredible. In every performance he was outstanding. He took his game to another level out there and deserved his move. Now it’s amazing to watch him in the Premier League in every game with Leicester. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

“I think anyone who goes on to be successful there are times when they’re thinking, ‘no chance, I’m miles off it here, I’m never going to get anywhere’ and I’m sure he was in that position. If you told him six months on from his ACL he’d be playing in the Premier League with Leicester having played at a World Cup I don’t think he’d have believed you.

“It’s for anyone in life. If you go through tough spells, the good times will come if you stick at it.”