New Raith Rovers signing Lewis Toshney is only 23, but he has already experienced the highs and lows of football.
As a promising youth prospect at Celtic, the defender played against the cream of Europe’s kids when the Hoops took on Barcelona, Manchester City and Marseille in the Next Generation tournament.
He was also called up to represent his country at under 17, under 19 and under 21 level.
However, a freak injury caused by a botched operation ruled him out of the game for over a year, and ultimately cost him his chance to break into the Celtic side.
Toshney also suffered relegation during a season-long loan at his home town club, Dundee.
Now at Stark’s Park following spells with Ross County and Cowdenbeath, the defender is keen to kick-start his career in Kirkcaldy.
“It’s a very young squad here and guys are saying I’m one of the experienced ones, but I’m only 23,” he said.
“I had a bad injury and was out of the game for 17 months two years ago so I’m only just getting my fitness back as well.
“I had a bit of stop-start season last year, but Ray McKinnon has taken me in and been brilliant with me. Now I just need to get games.
“I feel that this season is a massive one for me and I’m just grateful Ray has taken a gamble on me. Hopefully I can repay him by good performances.”
It has been a long road back to full recovery for Toshney after a routine knee operation in 2013 ended in disaster.
“It was an operation that went bad,” he said. “It was straight-forward surgery but a bit of talc from the doctor’s glove ended up in my knee, so whenever I ran, my knee would swell up.
“At the time I never knew what it was and it was just so frustrating.
“I was at Celtic and Neil Lennon said I had a chance of getting back into the team.
“But I just couldn’t get back fit. Whenever I ran my knee just swelled up.
“Celtic were brilliant with me, they gave me an extra three months on my contract to get me fit because I went over the year.
“It was a boy down in London that eventually got to the bottom of it. I had to go on two sets of different tablets and eventually it went away.
“I left Celtic and went to Ross County and then Cowdenbeath and it was good to get games again.
“I feel as though I’m getting back to my game now. It was an unbelievably frustrating time, but it’s made me stronger. I’m still only 23 and got my whole career ahead of me.”
Toshney played his first games for Raith in the 2-0 friendly defeats to Hearts and Aberdeen, alongside his former Dundee team mate Kyle Benedictus at centre-half.
“It was just good to get a run out,” he said.
“I’ve played with Kyle at Dundee and we’re in the car school together so we know each other well.
“There’s four Dundee boys at the club so it’s good to know some boys and travel down together, but even the boys I didn’t know have been brilliant with me since day one.
“I’ve settled in quite quickly, and all the boys have made me feel welcome.”