Exclusive:Rangers told they have hidden gem with 'huge future' in their ranks as exciting Ibrox factor rated best in UK

Rangers goalkeeper Jacob Pazikas warms up ahead of a UEFA Youth League match against Ajax in September 2022Rangers goalkeeper Jacob Pazikas warms up ahead of a UEFA Youth League match against Ajax in September 2022
Rangers goalkeeper Jacob Pazikas warms up ahead of a UEFA Youth League match against Ajax in September 2022
The stopper kept seven clean sheets in 23 appearances during his first senior loan spell with Lowland League outfit Civil Service Strollers this term

Civil Service Strollers manager Gary Jardine believes Rangers have got a hugely exciting talent on their hands - insisting goalkeeper Jacob Pazikas has a “really good chance” of progressing into a future Ibrox No.1. The 19-year-old stopper, who has returned to the Light Blues following the conclusion of his first senior loan spell with the Lowland League side, kept seven clean sheets in 23 appearances for the Christie Gillies Park outfit on route to helping the club to a solid seventh-placed finish.

And Jardine admits he has been particularly impressed with the temperament Pazikas’ has displayed when faced with adversity, admitting he can only see the Gers academy prospect’s career heading on an upward trajectory.

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Speaking exclusively to Glasgow World, Jardine said: “Jacob has done fantastic from day one. I’ve worked with a lot of young players from other teams over the years and Jacob is extremely mature for his age. He came in as a voice, a real presence in the changing room. His professionalism is up there with the best I’ve seen and I can only see him going from strength to strength.

“We brought Lewis (Budinauckas) in on loan from Rangers the previous season and I think both keepers are different. They’ve got their own style, their own personalities. Bud was more quiet but quietly confident whereas Jacob had a louder voice. They’re both really good goalkeepers and Bud has went on to play SPFL football this season with Stranraer. Hopefully Jacob can take similar footsteps in his career path.

Asked if he had any reservations about recruiting Pazikas due to his lack of senior experience, Jardine responded: “None at all. Rangers probably have the best goalkeeping pathway in the UK, in my opinion. You just have to look at there goalkeepers under the first-team, they have all been gaining senior experience out on loan and they’re very well respected.

“I got a good relationship with Graeme Smith and his outlook and approach to the academy side of things is unbelievable. We spoke at length about the pathway Rangers have set out for Jacob and the reasons for why coming to Civil Service Strollers would benefit him. You know that if you’re getting a player from Rangers then they’re going to be of a certain calibre. Having worked with Lewis previously, it was a no brainer for us to bring Jacob in this season.”

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Quizzed on whether he believes Pazikas has all the right attributes to become a future Rangers No.1, Jardine said: “No one has got a crystal ball, but I think in terms of his size and his physique, it won’t be through the want of trying. He’s really dedicated to becoming a top goalkeeper, so I think he’s got a real good chance.

“Many different things can happen in a young players’ career but he handles setbacks really well. All goalkeepers make mistakes from time to time, but the way he managed those mistakes for us proved to me he’s got the right temperament to be a top goalkeeper, whether that be at Rangers or another club.”

Strollers paid tribute to the youngster on social media following the conclusion of his loan spell. They wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Firstly, a huge thanks to Jacob Pazikas and @RangersFC, in particular Graeme Smith and Connor Brennan, for their support throughout the season. Big Paz has been fantastic since day one and is a top young pro with high standards. No doubt he'll have a huge future in the game”

Rangers, similarly, expressed their delight at how Pazikas fared during his loan spell with the Edinburgh club.

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They tweeted last month: “A positive first loan spell in senior football for Jacob Pazikas at @csstrollers. The teenager made over 20 league appearances as the Edinburgh club recorded an impressive seventh-placed finish in the Lowland League.”

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