Graeme Smith RYDC Twitter Q&A

Rangers Academy goalkeeping coach Graeme Smith hung up his playing gloves in the summer after a successful 19-year professional career and he is delighted to pass on his knowledge to the talented crop of young goalkeepers at the Hummel Training Centre.

Graeme, who joined Rangers from Kilmarnock in 2007 and was on the bench in the 2008 UEFA Cup and Scottish Cup Finals, also featured for St Johnstone, St Mirren, Peterhead and Raith Rovers during his career.

With Colin Stewart, son of ex Rangers player and coach Jim, now part of Steven Gerrard’s backroom team, Graeme is thrilled to be given the chance to take over as Head of Academy Goalkeeping and work with the young players at the training ground.

Graeme enjoyed engaging with fans during a recent Twitter Q&A for the Rangers Youth Development Company and here are the highlights of his session…

Q – Snagsy – what’s the most important element of Goalkeeping coaching?

A – Being honest with GK’s is important. Knowing the level a player is at and what is required to work on to develop. It is a specialised role and specialised training and a knowledge and understanding of the position is a fundamental requirement to be successful

Q – 4LadsHadADream – Graeme, what advice would you give to any young GK at Rangers, or even growing up, about making the break through professionally?

A – A belief and dedication in what you want to achieve. There will be good days and bad days. To have a strong belief in your own ability and dedicate yourself to the craft. Most importantly enjoy it.

Q – 4LadsHadADream – Graeme, what is the biggest asset you feel you can pass on to our younger GKs that will assist them in the future?

A – I can pass on my experience having played over 350 games at a high level in Scotland. 19 years of experience in the game. Having been at the club as a player I know what is required and the hard work needed to play at first team level.

Q – Gordon Milne – In what ways do you assist young keepers in the mental aspects of the position, particularly when they make errors and lose some confidence?

A – Drawing on my own experiences I know the pressures of dealing with fans, mistakes, pressure matches, intimidating atmospheres, positive and negative press, playing in front of big crowds. Mental skills training is something I work on with the players

Q – Stef Okroy – How would you say the general attitude has changed since Gerrard came to the club?

A – With any new manager it is a clean slate for everybody. The manager had a meeting with the players and told them if they show they are good enough they will be given the opportunity. So they have taken confidence from that. Many academy players have already trained or been involved in first team games and it is an incentive for all the youth players

Q – Tommy Greig – Reflecting on your time with Rangers, is there anything you feel could’ve helped gain more first team experiences or was it just a sign of the quality, strength and depth of the position at the time?

A – Having established myself as a first team goalkeeper at Kilmarnock, I always knew it would be a difficult task to dislodge what were international goalkeepers. But coming to a huge club there is always more competition for places. I worked hard and trained well but unfortunately the form of Allan McGregor kept me and Roy Carroll out the team. When Allan finally did drop out the team through injury, Neil Alexander and I both acquitted ourselves well in what was a strong, successful squad of players

Q – Colin – Sitting on the bench in Manchester, were you hoping for a goalkeeping injury to Neil Alexander or the opposite “Please don’t get injured”?

A – You want to play in every game you are involved in. You don’t want the other GK to get injured but you always prepare just incase. I have never sat on the bench and not wanted to get on. I would have loved to have played in that game.

Q – Rachel Ewing-Day – In your opinion what is more important for a keeper, height or mindset?

A – I think ability coupled with a good mindset. The higher level you play at the mindset becomes more important. There have been many recent high profile mistakes at the top level but their mindset to recover from these is the most important attribute

Q – Colin – Astonishing money being spent on goalkeepers this Summer Chelsea (£72m) and Liverpool (£56m) have spent significant sums Crazy money or great deals?

A – The money in the English game inflates prices, you need to spend big to outbid other clubs. Goalkeepers are investments – for example when Buffon went to Juventus for £32.6 million everyone thought they were crazy but he played over 500 games & won many trophies.

Buffon is a successful example. It is also a sign of how important the role has become and teams are dependent on having these types of goalkeepers in their team to be successful – hence the big money

Q – John – Any superstitions or routines before a game or lucky charm?

A – Nothing crazy. Just everything on my right side first. Shin pads, gloves etc

Q – John – Can you remember how many penalties you saved in your career?

A – No, but I have quite a good penalty record. I saved quite a few in the SPL. In the Betfred Cup two years ago I saved five in the one penalty shoot-out although I did have a penalty to win it and put it over the bar. We still went through though!!

Q – Chris Smith – Best memory of your playing career and favourite player in first team squad?

A – Best memories – Winning the league with Rangers at Tannadice, Scottish Cup Final win, UEFA Cup final apart from the 90 minutes, winning League 2 with Peterhead and reaching the Petrofac Final to play Rangers at Hampden as my two sons were there as mascots. Favourite player – I will go with the goalies union and pick Greegsy. Since he has been back he looks as if he has never been away.

Q – David – Who had the biggest influence on your career?

A – From an early age my dad, at a professional level Jim Stewart, Gordon Marshall and Colin Meldrum from my early days at Kilmarnock. Their advice and guidance were pivotal to me having a lengthy career

Rangers Academy coach Graeme Smith is pictured promoting the re-launched Rangers Pools for the Rangers Youth Development Company and fans can sign up now at www.rangerspools.com.

Profits from this latest RYDC venture – in partnership with the Football Pools –will be donated back to Rangers Football Club exclusively for the maintenance and upkeep of Ibrox Stadium. 

For full details on all RYDC products visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4919.

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