Leading Rangers back to the summit of the Scottish Professional Football League will be Lee Wallace’s over-riding ambition in the season ahead.
But the Ibrox club’s captain has revealed he hopes to achieve the feat in tandem with helping Tynecastle FC take a step towards achieving SPFL status.
While still in the prime of his playing career at 28, Wallace is already taking his first steps on the coaching ladder which he intends will take him into management when he eventually hangs up his boots.
Since last year, Wallace has spent much of his free time working as first team coach at East of Scotland League side Tynecastle who are managed by his friend Steve Vinter.
With a pyramid set-up now established in Scottish football, former Hearts full-back Wallace believes Tynecastle can move up into the Lowland League and beyond in the coming years.
“I see big things happening in the future for Tynecastle,” said Wallace. “As a coaching staff, we are a year into the project.
“The next step will hopefully be the Lowland League, where you don’t have to look any further than Edinburgh City and what they have achieved in getting into the SPFL via the pyramid system.
“I think about football 24-7 and I want to make progress both for Rangers on the pitch and with my involvement at Tynecastle.
“I was lucky enough to start coaching with Heriot Vale amateurs, which was run by a lot of my friends. It’s a different ball game with Tynecastle which is part-time level in the East of Scotland League. We are hoping to progress the club forward.
“It’s quite 24-7. Tynecastle train twice a week and I’m there for every session I can. I also get to games whenever I can.
“The guys in the dressing room here at Rangers, mainly Kenny Miller, say they don’t know how I get away with spending so much time on football.
“I’ve got two young kids as well but my wife is well aware it’s a big part of my life and she’s great about it.
“Rangers comes first, I always have to make that clear and it goes without saying – making sure I’m the best I can be for Rangers.
“But being able to learn a different side of things with Tynecastle has benefitted me, made me think differently about the game and helped me all round.”
Wallace, who recently extended his contract at Rangers until 2019, was delighted to see manager Mark Warburton and his assistant David Weir follow suit this week ahead of the competitive opener to the new season in the League Cup against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday.
“I think the manager was always going to sign,” added Wallace. “It was just a case of getting bits and pieces sorted.
“It was never in question and as players we are over the moon with that as we have a huge appreciation of the work he is doing and the work he has done. We are certainly going to give our all so he can be a proud man here.
“Is it important to put down a marker on Saturday for the start of the new season? Absolutely. It’s a big part of how we are as a team. We want to put a marker down on the first day, we want to hit the ground running. We want to be the best we can be.
“I know there’s going to be a tough schedule of four games in nine days in the League Cup but we want to progress through it and be in the best possible shape for the new Premiership season starting against Hamilton at Ibrox on 6 August.”
l Lee Wallace was speaking as Tynecastle FC launched a new kit sponsorship by Kimberley Watson Packaging ahead of a friendly against Rangers under-20s.