'I'll always be grateful': On loan Raith Rovers forward Zak Rudden praises his grounding at Rangers under leadership of Steven Gerrard
After almost a decade at the Govan heavyweights when he worked his way up through their youth ranks and trained with the first team, the 24-year-old – currently on loan at Raith from Dundee until the end of the season – had loan spells at Falkirk and Plymouth Argyle before joining Partick Thistle on a two-and-a-half-year deal in January 2020.
"Peter Lovenkrands (ex-Rangers youth coach) was very good for my development,” Rudden told the Fife Free Press. “It would have been Andy Kirk before that, when I was 15.
"Moving up to 2019, I went away with the Rangers first team to train and everybody was brilliant with me then. All the physios, just everybody to be honest. Steven Gerrard was brilliant, and Gary McAllister (Gerrard's assistant manager at the time).
"You kind of knew the standard they wanted from you, so we kind of rose to that challenge as well. Mick Beale was a very good technical coach so it was brilliant to learn off them.
"Then when I had just left the club to sign for Thistle, I had been there for coming up 10 years, Gerrard phoned me and just wished me all the best which was nice to have.
"Everybody was really good with me at Rangers. I could never fault them for anything.
"Billy Kirkwood (youth coach) was probably one of my biggest influences at Rangers.
"He still is to this day because he's kind of moved up to Dundee now helping out there. So I see him now and then when I was in.
"I always keep in contact with him.”
Rudden also thanked former Partick boss Ian McCall for “resparking” his career at Firhill, during which time the player scored 18 times in 48 matches between 2020 and 2022.
He added: "I enjoyed myself very much there at Partick. It was tough at the start because I did my knee and Covid affected me a lot when just coming in.
"The league was stopped, we were relegated but McCall was brilliant with me. I can't thank him more than I already have.”