Ryan Christie was born just a year after Caley Thistle.
And what a road the Inverness-born, Scotland and Celtic midfielder has been on since kicking a ball around the garden, moving on to primary school and working through the age groups at his hometown club.
He is now about to shine for Scotland at Euro 2020, having played a central role in getting the country to its first major tournament in more than two decades.
The 26-year-old midfielder has more than followed in the footsteps of his famous father.
Charlie, who is head of youth development at ICT, played with class and style for the Caley Jags and also moved to Celtic Park for a couple of years in his career.
Ryan has taken that to another level, scoring the goal in Serbia which helped take Scotland into this month’s Euro 2020 finals, and performing so consistently well for Celtic on the biggest stage.
Charlie said: “When Ryan was born, in 1995, the merged (Caley Thistle) team was only one year old. The excitement of the new club was still in the air. As soon as Ryan could walk, he was kicking a ball.
“My wife would take him to see me playing. He was only three when he saw his first Caley Thistle game. He was ever-present at the stadium and he went to quite a few away games to watch me play.
“We had just bought a house in the area, so were fortunate enough that Ryan went to Crown Primary. He went to their soccer school every Saturday and Thursday. He loved it and it took off from there.”
Christie Senior’s efforts ensured son could play at Inverness and youth team got right coaching
Although Ryan went on to star for Inverness before catching the eyes of Celtic and other suitors, he was almost snatched by Ross County at a young age.
And Charlie, during that period, recognised the need to develop the youth game at the Highland capital club.
He explained: “Ryan was spotted at SFA courses which were called Tomorrow’s Heroes. He was actually invited across to Ross County at the age of nine.
“We didn’t have a primary school-aged squad at Inverness at that point, so I took this on board. There was no formal SFA fixtures at 11 or 12.
“I went round all the soccer seven academies in the area and they were really well run. Our current director, Gordon Fyfe, was the secretary at the time. It was incredible, so well structured.
“I asked every single school for their top three or four players. We actually had a trial period over six weeks on the stadium pitch thanks to our groundsman, Tommy Cumming. We had around 60 kids there and we whittled it down to a group of 18. I coached them.
“The next year, the SFA fixtures kicked in for the under-12s and the timing could not have worked out better for us. Our 1994/95 dates of birth kids were so strong.
“Not only did Ryan have good potential, but he was surrounded by many other boys also with really good potential.
“It was the most structured work we have done in the youth department. I got a lot of people involved. We had six lovely Wednesdays in a row, on the stadium pitch, which was tremendous.
“That group of 18 were together for five or six years. We always say that, at Caley Thistle, over the years we’ve had two stand-out groups.
“The 94/95 and the 2001 dates of birth were excellent. We didn’t just have three or four really good players, we had nine or 10. If we had that every year, my job would be a lot easier.
“That was the start if it all and Ryan kicked on from there. As well as myself taking the squad, we also had Paul Sheerin and Scott Kellacher, so they were getting top-notch quality sessions twice a week. The group progressed from there.”
Inverness youth team were beating all-comers
Ryan and other talented youngsters were flourishing under the revamped set-up that Charlie drove into place.
Charlie explained: “When Ryan played youth football at Caley Thistle, he developed throughout the youth squads.
“At 13/14, we find our kids are late developers, but by the time that group got to 15 they really were a pleasure to watch.
“I found an old coaching booklet in the stadium the other day. I used to keep notes every Monday on how they performed and their results and what players needed to work on what.
“We were going head-to-head with every team in Scotland and winning almost every week. For a youth group in Inverness, that’s a huge achievement.
“Our success rate has been better than the majority of clubs. Not as much as we’d like, but we’ve had more recently.”
He added: “At 16 and 17, we started to look at the strength of individual players and see who has the potential to be taken in for an apprenticeship. From Ryan’s group, we took in six, which was great.
“They all came in when Terry Butcher was the manager and Maurice Malpas was the assistant. We took in six, we could well have taken in eight, such was their quality.
“Ryan loved every minute of that apprenticeship. From the age of nine, he looked forward to his training sessions, no matter the weather. When he was taken on full-time at Caley Thistle, it was a dream come true.”
Hughes swiftly spotted Christie’s first-team potential – and helped toughen youngster up
When John Hughes replaced Butcher and Malpas in 2013, the new manager spotted Ryan’s potential within 30 minutes on the training pitch.
Charlie said: “When Terry and Maurice moved on, in came John Hughes. He has told the story before that he watched the first-team train when he came in and also the under-19s.
“That’s the type of man he was. He took an interest in all aspects of the club.
“He noticed Ryan within that under-19 group and asked Scott Kellacher who Ryan was. John saw so much in him within that first half an hour that he wanted him to join the first-team.
“For someone to show faith in him like that gave him a real boost. Everybody needs a chance in life, no matter what you do. Ryan always had the potential, but John gave him that final bit of belief and he grasped it with both hands.
“I love hearing Ross Draper, David Raven and Gary Warren saying that John used to ask them to have a wee kick at Ryan in training in small-sided games.
“John would never give him a foul. He just wanted to see his reaction and it was a fantastic grounding for him.
“He was introduced to the first-team that year and he took his opportunity. And he welcomed all the information. He’s got a good brain. He done well at school, which I insisted on.
“What John Hughes’ team achieved at Inverness was incredible. I doubt we will see it again.
“To get third place in the Premiership, take the club into Europe and win the Scottish Cup. It was dreamland and for Ryan to have be a part of that was brilliant.
“Ryan knows who has played a part in his development. He mentions me for drilling into him from a young age and there were many tears along the way, because I was very demanding of him.
“But then Yogi, in particular, gave him that chance at Caley Thistle and many times with young players it really is about showing faith in them and John did that.”
Something is clearly working well at Inverness right now too.
Robbie Deas, Roddy MacGregor, Cameron Harper and Daniel MacKay, who has now joined Hibs, have all been called up for current Scotland under-21s on the back of their performances for ICT last term.
That quartet will no doubt be inspired by the midfield maestro Ryan Christie, who has soared to these heady heights.