JORDAN HOUSTON lived his dream in the Scottish Cup.
He will always cherish the day he stepped onto the pitch for Rangers alongside a galaxy of stars including Jermain Defoe, Nikola Katic and Kyle Lafferty.
However, the ambitious 20-year-old had no qualms about walking away from his boyhood heroes when his career threatened to hit a roadblock.
Houston entered the fray as a late substitute against Cowdenbeath last January, helping the Gers to a 3-1 win at Central Park. It may have only been a brief cameo but it was a notable show of faith from boss Steven Gerrard.
“I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity against Cowdenbeath,” he recalled. “I grew up a Rangers fan and, from a personal point of view, that will always be my fondest memory in this competition.
“It was always a dream to represent Rangers and to be able to say you’ve played alongside guys like Jermain Defoe, Jon Flanagan – who has played in the English Premier League for Liverpool – Daniel Candeais and Ryan Jack is something I’m incredibly proud of.
“But when you get that first sniff, you don’t want it to go. And sometimes it does go.”
Indeed, with subsequent chances to shine few and far, a nagging sense of frustration grew and loans with Airdrie and Ayr United followed.
Mature beyond his years, the Scotland under-19 internationalist was unwilling to prioritise the perceived prestige of being a Rangers player above progressing as a footballer.
So when the opportunity to make his loan move at Somerset Park a permanent one arose last month, he jumped at it.
He continued: “Sometimes you can be training really well and working hard, yet that only gets you so far. If that opportunity doesn’t come then the time comes to say ‘I’ll go elsewhere and prove myself week-in, week-out’.
“I felt I needed to make this move for the good of my career – be a senior, first-team player.
“I had already settled in really well during my time on loan at Ayr so when it became clear there was a chance to make it permanent, it felt like a win-win.”
He may have been a raw kid when he stepped onto the field for the Gers at Central Park, but he approaches Saturday’s last-16 clash with St Johnstone as a cocksure first-team regular.
Houston helped Ayr knock out Premiership opposition in the form of Ross County in the previous round and is adamant Mark Kerr’s Honest Men have nothing to fear.
Houston added: “We managed to cause an upset against Ross County, which underlined the quality we have in the squad. We feel more than capable of causing another upset.”