Ex-Glasgow Rangers manager Mark Warburton knew Billy Gilmour was a hugely talented 15-year-old, but the Ibrox club could not compete with Chelsea.
Warburton is convinced that 19-year-old Gilmour can develop into a genuine world-class midfield maestro for Scotland and Chelsea.
The former Rangers boss tried hard to persuade the rising talent to stay at Ibrox, but has been delighted to see the progress the midfielder has made following his move to Stamford Bridge in 2017.
“David Weir and I went to his house to try and keep him at Rangers,” Warburton told the Daily Mail.
“We spent time with his mum and dad, but when the big boys come calling, it’s tough.
“His talent was unquestioned. I remember he played against what was a Dundee reserve side with a number of first-team players in it.
“I’m looking at Billy who was 15 and thinking there is a health-and-safety issue here because he was so slight. But he went out and absolutely ran the show.”
Now 19, the Scotland Under-21 cap has earned glowing praise after being promoted into the Chelsea first team by manager Frank Lampard this season.
“There are few limits on what Gilmour could eventually achieve within the game,” ex-Rangers boss Warburton continued.
“He had trained with us a couple of times in the first team and I am really pleased to see how he is doing now.
“What a talent. I think Scotland have a future world-class midfield player, I really do.
“I think he is going to keep on improving because he is in a great environment with Frank and Jody (Morris, assistant manager) and the players at Chelsea.
“I very much hope he can continue that progress because, if so, Scotland truly will have a world-class midfield player there.”
Currently in charge of Queens Park Rangers, Warburton has a strong background in youth development from his time at Watford and Brentford.
He ranks Gilmour, who hit a double for Chelsea in their 7-1 thrashing of Warburton’s QPR yesterday in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Stamford Bridge – among the very best he has seen.
Rangers fans would certainly have loved to have seen Gilmour stay at Ibrox, but the allure of Premier League football was just too much for the young star.
The Gers did all they could to convince the teenager to stay in Glasgow but may look back in the near future with regret as the midfielder establishes himself as a top talent in England.
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