Teen star Calvin Ramsay must continue to make sacrifices and graft hard to realise his huge potential at Aberdeen, insists U18 coach Barry Robson.
Having made a breakthrough late last season the 18-year-old is now a regular first team starter under manager Stephen Glass.
English Premier League side Everton are reportedly tracking the teen for a potential January swoop having missed out on Rangers’ Scotland international right-back Nathan Patterson this summer.
Everton boss Rafa Benitez sent one of his top scouts to watch Ramsay in action in the 2-0 loss to Motherwell at the weekend.
Rangers rejected bids of £5m and £8m from Everton for Patterson and the Ibrox club value the 19-year-old in excess of £10m.
Contracted to Pittodrie until summer 2024, Ramsay’s impressive performances have also been noticed at international level.
The teen earned a debut Scotland U21 cap when starting in the 1-1 UEFA Euro qualifier draw in Turkey last week.
Robson managed Ramsay in the Aberdeen U18’s and insists the emergence of the full-back is no overnight sensation.
It is the result of years of sacrifice, hard work and determination from the teen.
Robson said: “It’s how much the player wants it and Calvin clearly does.
“Ultimately it’s the sacrifices and how you want to be, how you live your life.
“It just shows what can be done if you knuckle down and work hard to try and improve your game every day.
“The cream of the crop will come through at the end and you always find it is the ones that really want to be footballers.
“That is because they are willing to make those sacrifices and willing to listen to all their coaches.
“That is what these boys like Calvin, Jack (MacKenzie) and Dean (Campbell) have done and hopefully there will be some more to come.”
Ramsay set to be fit to face St Johnstone
Ramsay was substituted in the 62nd minute of the loss at Motherwell with cramp but is expected to be fit to face St Johnstone at Pittodrie on Saturday.
Ramsay made his first team debut as a late substitute in a 1-0 Premiership loss to Dundee United on March 20, under the interim management of Robson, Paul Sheerin (now Falkirk manager) and Gothenburg Great Neil Simpson.
Days after that New Firm derby loss Stephen Glass was confirmed as new manager and Ramsay was pitched in for his first start in the next game – a 1-0 Scottish Cup win at lower league Dumbarton.
Glass watched the game remotely as he was still in the United States. Ramsay produced a man of the match performance before coming off in the 63rd minute.
It was the launch-pad for his elevation to become a first team regular.
Aberdeen will keep Ramsay grounded
This season Ramsay started all six ties in the Europa Conference League qualifiers and four of the five Premiership games.
However Robson insists the club will ensure the teen remains grounded so that he can continue his continual improvement and expected ascent in the professional game.
Robson said: “Full credit to Calvin as he has done very well however you cannot get carried away.
“I have always said to Calvin it is hard to get into the first team, but it is even harder to stay in the first team.
“We will make sure that his feet are still grounded, that’s for sure and that he doesn’t get carried away with himself.
“Calvin has done so well, is going the right way and doing the right things but he has not achieved anything yet.
“There is still a long way to go to establish himself.”
Right mentality vital for young talents
As well as Ramsay’s undoubted skill, game intelligence and pace the teen also possesses another fundamental needed for success – the right mentality.
Ramsay has been pitched in from the start in big games in Europe and was never fazed, producing a mental robustness and maturity well beyond his 18 years.
Robson said: “The mental aspect is probably more important than the physical.
“These boys have had coaches right the way through the youth academy.
“Ultimately though, it is down to the players themselves.”
Spell back with U18’s to get game time
Having broken into the team Ramsay dropped back into the U18’s for the final games of the Club Academy Scotland U18 League last season.
That was done at the request of manager Glass because Ramsay had limited game time in the 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Ramsay had only played seven games over the entire year.
The teenage full-back featured as a substitute under Glass in the final Premiership game of the season, a 4-0 loss to champions Rangers at Ibrox on May 15.
Whilst Ramsay’s first team mates were on holiday the teen was still on duty with the U18’s for a further week and played twice – with his final match when starting in a 3-2 loss away to Hearts at the Oriam on May 21.
Robson said: “We only took Calvin for two games.
“We would never have done that before but it was just because of lockdown where there had been so few games.
“We thought it was a couple of 90 minutes for Calvin before the season ended and he had a four week break.
“That was the only reason we did it for him, to get that game time.
“We always knew the manager would be taking Calvin in for the pre-season.”
Talent emerging from Youth Academy
Ramsay is the latest talent to step up to the first team from the Aberdeen Youth Academy set up.
Midfielder Dean Campbell is just 20 but has already racked up 67 first team appearances whilst left-back Jack MacKenzie, 21, broke into Glass’ side towards the end of last season and is now a regular starter.
Robson believes they are an inspiration to the other talents in the Youth Academy and offer proof of clear path-way to the first team.
He said: “Calvin, Jack MacKenzie and Dean Campbell have shown the younger players that the opportunities are here at Aberdeen for them.
“The club is built on that.
“We work very hard from the age of nine years old right through.
“These players show how you will get an opportunity at Aberdeen if you are good enough.”