HE spent years rising to the challenge on the pitch and came up through the ranks at Rangers. 

Now, former Gers youth player Luca Gasparotto is ready to reach new heights after he retired from the game to become a tree surgeon. 

The defender, who also played for Falkirk and Greenock Morton during his time in Scotland, was most recently spotted in the colours of York9 FC in his home country Canada.

That was until yesterday when he confirmed his decision to hang up his boots from full-time football to begin an apprenticeship as an arborist or tree surgeon. 

He told the Northern Tribune: "I’ve lived the childhood dream.

"I got to play professional football for nine-ten years and got to see a lot of cool places, do a lot of cool things, play against a lot of great players, and play with a lot of great players too.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity that they gave me, bringing me back home.

"It's no disrespect to the league, I loved playing in this game.

"I got to play back home for the last two years. But it's hard to make a living off what the contracts are in the league.

"At this point in my life I'm trying to set myself up for the long term and that's the difficult decision that I made, to step back from soccer and pursue a different career."

The Canadian, who played with the likes of Lewis McLeod and Kyle Hutton during his Ibrox days, made four appearances for the Rangers first team in between loan spells at Stirling Albion, Airdrie, and Morton. He left Scotland in 2018 to return home. 

Forestry Journal:

Already working with an arborist ahead of his completing his apprenticeship certification from Humber River College at the turn of the new year, he also plans to coach at the Durham FC Academy on weekends.