OLIVER WYSS saw his playing career brought to a premature end two decades ago.

Now, his focus is on giving others the chance to make the most of their talent in the United States and Scotland.

A rare blood disorder forced Wyss, a former Swiss youth internationalist, into early retirement, but the business acumen forged in his homeland has opened new doors later in life. The most significant of those was the one to the Rangers Training Centre.

Wyss played a key role in the discussions between Orange County Soccer Club and Rangers that lead to a partnership being formed late last year. Under the arrangement, staff, strategies and players will be shared between Irvine and Ibrox as Rangers look to expand Stateside and the USL Championship outfit get a foot in the European game.

Originally founded as the Los Angeles Blues a decade ago, Orange County were acquired by businessman James Keston in 2016. A change of name coincided with a rise in their fortunes as they reached the Western Conference Final and they would finish fifth in the 18-team division last term before losing in the play-offs.

Youth development has always been at the heart of the Orange County model and the arrangement with Rangers will only strengthen that vision. As well as living the American dream, Californian kids could now have a Scottish avenue to pursue.

“Over the last two years, we have been approached by multiple European clubs and when we met with Rangers it was clear from the first minute that this would be a relationship that will benefit both parties,” Wyss, the President of Soccer Operations and General Manager at the Championship Stadium, said.

“We had talks with teams from the Premier League, from the Bundesliga and from Portugal and even though they were all great clubs, we felt that Rangers was the one for us.

“Over the last couple of years, Rangers have invested in their system under the leadership of Craig Mulholland, and we felt their Academy programme was the ideal partner for us to allow us to send our most talented players there to develop and reach the highest level.

“When you look at the entire club, not only is Rangers one of the most successful and historic clubs in European football history, it is a great club all around from the first team to the Academy, which is world class.

“You put all these pieces together and there was a real willingness from the Rangers leadership to work with us and truly build a partnership that has merits on every single front. That is why we closed the deal with them.”

For all the work that will go on behind the scenes at both Rangers and Orange County as commercial and sponsorship avenues are explored, it will be on the park where supporters really want to see the benefits of this cross-Atlantic tie-in.

Ibrox kids Cammy Palmer, Danny Finlayson and Matthew Shiels have already moved to California on loan, while three County prospects travelled to Glasgow late last year.

OC have a catchment area that has 10million people - and a quarter of a million registered players – within their reach. The challenge now is to find the needle in the haystack, the player that can become a star Stateside and in Scotland.

Wyss said: "This partnership is a great opportunity to expose Orange County and the USL to the European market.

“The fans will be familiar with the MLS because of the great players like David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and David Villa that played there and they were closely followed.

“But the USL Championship is the fastest growing second division professional league in the world and it now has very talented international players that are coming to play here.

“It is a great league for the Rangers players that we have here – and other European players – to showcase themselves in the American market and other markets.

“You are looking at a talent pool of hundreds of thousands of players that we can tap into and the beauty of our franchise is that we control the rights of the players 100 per cent.

“We own the players and the franchise so we can do business like any European club. Rangers were keen to tap into the Southern California market so this will be a big asset for them as well.”

Wyss and County head coach Braeden Cloutier travelled to Auchenhowie in December as the strategic partnership was confirmed alongside Light Blues boss Gerrard and Stewart Robertson.

Cloutier is assisted by former Burnley, West Brom and Southampton midfielder Richard Chaplow, while Frans Hoek – who worked alongside Louis van Gaal throughout his managerial career – is technical director.

The links between Ibrox and Irvine are still being formed and only time will tell if the future is bright as a result of the Orange deal for Rangers.

“I have been over twice for the Celtic game and a European game earlier in the season,” Wyss said of his visits to Ibrox. “I was fortunate enough as a young player to play for Switzerland. I was born and raised in Switzerland and played for the youth national teams and played against Scotland a long time ago.

“We had three young players training with Rangers in December so we saw youth games, spent a week with the Academy and the Rangers executive staff were over here as well watching the USL games to make sure this was a level they felt their players could develop in.

“We have done the proper research and I was very impressed with the standard of the Rangers players and the quality of their coaching staff and the curriculum that we are sharing and building together.”