Hearts youngster Jamie Brandon admits leaving Rangers was “the best thing that could have happened” to him.
The defender grew up in the Rangers youth system, but moved to the Jambos at the start of last season following the end of his contract.
Brandon has been thrust into the first team this season following a succession of injuries to the Hearts squad, and admits he would not have had the chance to impress had he stayed at Ibrox.
On his departure from Rangers, the 19-year-old full-back said: “I didn’t get offered a new contract, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.
“(I am in) a lot better place than I was at Rangers.”
He added: “The facilities are very similar, they’re very good at both clubs.
“At Rangers as a (under) 20s player you’re a lot further away from the first team and there’s no interaction with them, but here the first-team players speak to you every morning and they offer you advice, which is really helpful as a young player.”
Brandon has made just nine appearances so far this season but has held his own as one of the promising youngsters to be promoted into the squad by Craig Levein and his coaching squad, earning a new three-year contract in October.
“If I was still at Rangers, I’d still be playing 20s football I think,” he admitted. “Coming here I have the opportunity to go and play with the first team, and I’ve got a new deal.
“It’s just worked out a lot better for me I think.”
The opportunity to play and train with senior players has clearly had a big impact on Brandon, who has not wasted the opportunity to pick some of the most experienced minds in the league.
He said: “Aaron Hughes, Michael Smith and Christophe Berra are probably the three that I mainly look up to.
“Christophe and Aaron have loads of international caps and were really helpful with me, and Michael Smith takes me aside in training to work on stuff for full backs.”