It is rare for an Englishman to cut it in Scotland at the beginning of his career, but Dean Furman looks set to break the mould after becoming a regular in Rangers’ first-team squad, just as their treble charge gathers momentum.
Yet to make his first-team debut, the 19-year-old has been an unused substitute in two Old Firm derbies but is confident his time will come.
Born in Cape Town, Furman grew up in Edgware, Middlesex, and was a JFS schoolfriend of Maccabi Herzliya starlet Josh Kennet.
With the team top of the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League and in the semi-finals of the Uefa Cup, Furman hopes to help them build on their success in the CIS Cup.
“This has been a really good season for me,” he said. “I’ve progressed from the youth team to the reserves and have moved into the first team squad. This is obviously a big step up and playing at a higher level is always difficult, but I feel I’ve coped with it quite well.”
He joined Ibrox after being spotted by Rangers’ youth department in 2006, initially joining on a two-year deal from Chelsea. When he left Stamford Bridge, current first team coach Steve Clarke, who knows him well, sang his praises, saying: “It is obviously a big step up from the youth teams at Chelsea to the first team, but the lad has a lot of ability. I watched him play in a couple of games with our reserves and was impressed. He’s a very talented centre midfield player and he’s also a great kid with a great attitude.”
After cementing a regular place in the reserves he has broken into Walter Smith’s squad since the turn of the year and is enjoying the opportunity to work closely with Smith and Rangers legend Ally McCoist.
His fondest memories in Scotland have been captaining the Under 19 team that lifted the SFA Youth Cup last season — after beating arch rivals Celtic 5-0 — and being a key player during the title-winning campaign.
Furman was one of a number of players to move from the youth team into the reserves and he thrived at that level. Smith spotted his undoubted potential and called him into his squad. “It’s been good to be involved with the first team,” he said. “You take as much as you can get from them. Working with the likes of Walter and Ally has been fantastic for me. They have great experience. One of the biggest benefits of playing with the first team is that you get the chance to pick up so many new tips on how to improve your own game.”
Furman signed a new contract in 2007 which will see him remain at the club until the summer of 2009. However, he admits he is very settled and will not be heading anywhere in the near future. “At the moment I am very happy here and hopefully I can keep progressing and stay for as long as I can. I have plenty of time left on my contract and I’m very settled.”
As the South African born teenager qualifies to play for two countries, he has no doubt that, if international football comes calling, his heart would lie with his place of origin.
“I’ve had a few call-ups for South Africa,” he said, “but one way or another it hasn’t really worked out. But with the World Cup in two years, my loyalties would lie there. For now, my main priority is playing for Rangers and progressing my career here before anything internationally.”
With the majority of matches on Saturdays, he is unable to maintain a religious lifestyle though he enjoys the traditions. “I am very close to a Jewish family in Glasgow and have spent Seder night and occasionally Friday night meals.”