Rangers talent Lewis Mayo says the advice of Connor Goldson has prepared him to take the next major step in his career.
And the new Kilmarnock loanee insists discussions with Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Ibrox development staff are ensuring he’s on the right path to success. The defender is highly rated by Light Blues chiefs, and before making his temporary switch to Rugby Park, the centre-back signed a new contract extension with his parent club until 2024.
Mayo is learning the trade moving through the ranks. After spells out in the Championship at Dunfermline and Patrick Thistle, he’ll now work under the expert management of Derek McInnes as he steps up the levels to the Premiership this term. The defender might be spending time away from Ibrox to boost his progression from him, but he says the advice and tips he’s had from top-team stars back at Rangers are also invaluable.
As a fellow centre-back, Goldson’s words make a huge impact.
The Englishman is a hero at the club and has signed a new long-term contract himself to stay at the heart of van Bronckhorst’s plans.
Mayo has taken key pieces of information from Goldson in the past years and is determined to put them into practice as he moves up the ladder.
He explained: “At Rangers, I was lucky to be about some big names and some very good players.
“You get to test yourself against them in pre-season and in training. As a young player it is about taking bits of information whenever you can.
“Connor was a really good one for me. Being a center back and playing alongside him in pre-season was so helpful.
“He would talk to me about his experiences when he was my age. He would tell me what things helped him get to where he is at.
“He would speak to me about the type of mentality that is required.
“When someone like Connor speaks with you it helps your confidence and builds up your belief.
“It means a lot just to get the respect of the senior players. Having those conversations and getting those sorts of nuggets from them was great.
“It gives you that added push to make sure you step forward.
“One thing Connor always said to me was that you had to have a robust mentality.
“You have to accept that you will make mistakes.
“If you are a center half or a goalkeeper there are consequences when you make mistakes. If you want to succeed then you need to be able to handle it and look past it very quickly.
“It is all about getting experience of playing games and learning from your mistakes.”
Mayo has revealed that Jermain Defoe was another major influence on him and other youngsters at the Training Complex as they build their careers.
The ex-England striker may have moved on, but his wise words still resonate.
Mayo said: “Jermain was another one who I trained against and was good with his time.
“He was an older, experienced player who had so much good advice for the young players. He was definitely a challenge to play against.
“The main thing from him was that he would tell us all about our good attributes and qualities, but he would always stress to work really hard and to always be humble.
“He would urge us to chase our dreams and to play at the highest level we could.
“That is the only way you learn, by taking little bits from the older players and the staff. It is about listening to them and watching them.”
Mayo will now have more experience and knowledge to learn from in the shape of McInnes and the senior pros at Rugby Park.
The stopper discussed his next steps with van Bronckhorst before the deal was sealed to take him to Killie with making the right choices at the right times paramount in a young player’s development.
Mayo said: “I had a conversation with him (GVB) at Christmas and it was all positive and all looking forward.
“There is always a dialogue with Rangers about what is best for me. I felt it was all about taking the next step in terms of my progression.
“I felt the last two loan spells were invaluable. I learned so much over the past two years.
“The two loans were slightly different as I played a number of different positions at Dunfermline.
“That was good in its own way while last season (at Partick) I played virtually every game as a center back.
“Both were great experiences with competitive teams. I feel center back is my best position and that is where I see myself long term.”
Mayo put over 60 top-team appearances in the bank during those spells at East End Park and Firhill and now it’s onto Rugby Park.
The 22-year-old is currently with the Killie squad at their pre-season training camp in Spain and he’s thrilled to be taking the next steps in his career under the watchful eye of his new gaffer McInnes.
Mayo said: “When a manager like him expresses an interest it is really exciting.
“He is someone I am looking forward to working with and he is someone I can learn from as a player.”