Wilson takes a trip down Memory Lane on Ibrox return and relishes Weir reunion, writes Andrew Smith
He may only be 23, but Danny Wilson can trace his lineage with Rangers to days unrecognisable from those currently being experienced by the club. The was-that-really-how-it-used-to-be aspect of his recollection goes beyond the present-day Ibrox side being lower league strugglers compared to the Champions League-contesting, top-flight champions he left. Wilson, who rejoined his first club in a three-year deal this week, first trained with Rangers at the age of nine. His travels through from West Lothian back then did not bring him to Murray Park, though, since it hadn’t opened.
“I was playing for my local team called Murieston Boys Club and I was training with Rangers on the pitch across from Ibrox. That is how far back that was. I must have been about 14 when John Greig and Craig Mulholland spoke to my school, who were good enough to let me train with the 19s and reserves and stuff like that. The club were always very good to me. Even before that, I remember training at the Rangers community camp from when I was scouted at Livingston before.
“Those were good memories because we had good players in that team and at that point, you don’t really think you’re going to make the first team. You are like every young schoolboy who says they want to be a footballer. I managed to break in the first team at a young age and I hope I can come back and be a big part of the future.
“It is nice familiarising yourself again and the fond memories come back... it is nice. But it is different now. There is a lot different personnel, and I am here to make a difference in the future and not just for the nice fond memories I have. I want to make a difference and be a part of something successful.”
Wilson’s career hasn’t produced the success promised when he was a 17-year-old at the heart of the Rangers defence with now Ibrox assistant David Weir in Europe’s premier football tournament. Frankly, he wouldn’t be back at Ibrox if his development had not been stunted by a £2 million move to Liverpool in 2010. Wilson was a steady influence in Hearts’ Championship canter, but regular watchers of the Tynecastle side would maintain his influence was not equal to that of centre-back partner Alim Ozturk.
Wilson, for all his impressive comportment, can appear a little soft. He appears to need to be selected alongside a more aggressive, physically commanding presence. He found that in his teenage years in Weir, and doesn’t deny the role the man then more than twice his age played in his gaining recognition. Rangers manager Mark Warburton will be hoping that he now finds that with the bigger, more bustling type that fellow new defensive signing Rob Kiernan looks like he could be.
“I only played 25 games for Rangers and I think I played with him [Weir] in 23 of them,” added Wilson. “He was a big factor on and off the pitch. There are times when you are young, doing well and you still get taken out the team. He was the first one to put an arm around me and would give me some advice.
“He is a big factor and a factor in my decision coming here. The situation is different now – he is not a player now but is assistant manager so he has got other duties. For myself and Rob, he was a top centre-half so whatever we can learn from him can be of full benefit.
“Like in any career, you have your ups and your downs – at that point in my career I was having a lot more ups than downs. When the downs did come, he was always there to lend a hand. Even when I moved on – and I am not saying we spoke every day on the phone – he always told me if I needed anything then I could contact him.
“He was there for me, but it is quite different walking out the changing room and seeing him there as an assistant. He has been successful in the short time he has been assistant with the new gaffer so I am looking forward to working for them both.”