Every path to the top is different. Dujon Sterling knows that more than most.

He shared a Chelsea dressing room with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ola Aina and was in the same age group as Reece James. At England youth level, he became close to Marcus Tavernier, brother of Rangers captain James.

He called on the advice of Calvin Bassey before moving to Ibrox, has relationships with Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo and has played against Rabbi Matondo in his younger days. All have their own stories to tell, and Sterling is no different.

An association with Chelsea that started when he was at school came to an end last month. The time was right for Sterling to move on and he is embarking on a new permanent chapter after loans with Coventry City, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Stoke City.

READ MORE: Dujon Sterling reunited with 'genius' boss Michael Beale at Rangers

It was his time at Bloomfield Road that stands out for the 23-year-old. The details of a long-term, injury-enforced absence remain private, yet he can reflect on the impact that it had on him personally and professionally now that he has emerged stronger from the trials and tribulations.

"It was difficult, especially coming back because you lose that yard of speed and the power," Sterling said. "That’s me, my game. Everything is powerful.

"Trying to get back to it was difficult, it took a bit of time. It didn’t feel right at first. So I stopped and worked on it again.

"Then, going on loan to Blackpool, that was what got my confidence back up. Neil Critchley put trust in me. I’d been out the game for two years and everyone is thinking: 'Where’s Dujon?

"No-one had heard of me or saw what was happening. I didn’t let it out in the press and Chelsea didn’t either. When I went to Blackpool, it was one of the best times in my life.

"[I didn't feel] forgotten, I didn’t really care if that’s how people felt from the outside. It was all about getting my body right and headspace as well. Because if I’m not confident in my play I can’t benefit no-one."

Those long, difficult months out of action were a test of Sterling's character more than his ability. Having proven his fortitude, he now has a chance to showcase his talent after signing a four-year contract with Rangers.

READ MORE: Kieran Dowell reveals Rangers chats that sold him on Ibrox switch

He made 26 appearances in the Championship for Stoke last term and was not short of offers in the final stages of his Stamford Bridge deal. In the end, he felt that Ibrox was the place for him to take his career to the next level.

At a time when so much focus is on the future, Sterling's first media duties in Glasgow were a chance to look back. Whenever he does so, he takes strength and motivation for what lies ahead as part of Michael Beale's side.

"It was difficult but I’m mentally strong," Sterling said. "Little downers like that – obviously it was big – won’t affect me.

"I bounce back. Even in game situations, if something goes wrong there is always the next game to prove yourself and get back to doing what’s right.

The Herald: Dujon Sterling, left, was on loan at Stoke last season (Tim Goode/PA)

"We knew the problem straight away. It was just the period to get back to 100 per cent in my whole body took a bit of time, about eight months.

"From there, you’ve got to do the rehab, then actually get back into training. That was another challenge, then playing games.

"There were a lot of stages to go through but in the end it worked out because now I’m here.

"At the start, you’re getting agitated just being in a treatment room and you can see everyone outside. You’re just sat there on the machines.

"After a while, I tried to go outside but it didn’t feel right so I just went back inside and decided to make sure I waited until everything felt 100 per cent ready to go, then we’d try again.

"Coming off that experience has made me stronger. It’s made me enjoy football more as well.

"You don’t take it for granted. For me, that was the main thing."

That lesson will stand Sterling well over the course of this season and his Rangers career as he now seeks to establish himself in a side that must win matches and medals. His flexibility, which allows him to operate at full-back on either flank or in a central three, will prove useful in that sense.

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His long-standing relationship with Beale was integral to the move as he was reunited with a coach and a mentor that guided him during his formative years at Chelsea and he would go on to make his debut in a cup victory over Nottingham Forest. If that aspect of the sales pitch wasn't enough, Sterling also had a recent Ibrox hero to call for advice.

Sterling referenced the 'path' a couple of times as he answered questions on his past, present and future. He is appreciative of what Rangers can offer him and there is a determination to make the most of the platform, in both domestic and European senses.

"It’s a really big one and I’m just grateful the gaffer has the trust in me to be able to do that as well," Sterling said of his opportunity at Rangers. "He played a major role in me coming here.

"I spoke to Calvin and asked him: 'What was your time like at Rangers?' He said it was one the best experiences he’s ever had and it’s made him the player he is today.

The Herald: Dujon Sterling

"He said it was one of the best clubs in the world and he thought I should go. I said: 'Yeah, why not?'

"But we’re not the same players. Obviously everyone is built different. I just want to make sure I prove myself, give the fans something to get excited about and hopefully be in for a good season.

"[Calvin spoke about] the club in general. He said it was a brilliant place to come. Just being here for one week, I can see that already – especially with how I’ve been treated around the training ground. It’s been really good."