TOMMY WILSON left a club that was a Scottish institution for an American organisation that was still in its infancy.

The world around him expanded exponentially and the job has grown in every year of the nine that he has been in Philadelphia. The wee things still matter, the attention to detail still has a profound presence in his work.

Initially appointed to run the three academy teams at Philadelphia Union in 2013, Wilson's role now encompasses ten sides as he oversees every player outside the one, coached by Jim Curtin, that is challenging for Major League Soccer honours this term.

The youth structure is regarded as the best in the business Stateside, one which has become synonymous with development and innovation. Wilson is coy to use the cliche, but there is a conveyor belt of talent within a system that continues to go from strength to strength under his guidance.

Even during some of the darkest days that Rangers have endured, the decision to leave his post at Auchenhowie was difficult for Wilson. He took a leap of faith across the pond but the results, both in terms of the strides that Union have taken and the personal progression he has benefitted from, more than justify the call.

"People who were around Rangers at that time in 2013 would know that the club had some challenges," Wilson told Herald and Times Sport. "But I didn’t have to leave. I loved it there, I loved my job there.

"Until you get into a club like Rangers, you don’t really know what it is like until you are inside it. It is magnificent, an institution, so it was a big wrench to leave it.

"I came over with a three-year contract and I didn’t have any great insight how long I would stay here.

"I have been really fortunate that before I came here and during my time here that people have invested in me and allowed me to go and travel and see examples of best practice, not just in football but in sport in general.

"They talk about it taking ten years or a generation to make substantive change so, whilst I wasn’t asking for a ten-year contract because nobody would give you that, it does take time. I think the time and belief and patience that the club has shown is starting to bear fruit."

When Wilson arrived in Philadelphia, the Union were just five years old and the new kids on the block in a city that has a proud history of sporting achievement. It is one of only six that has collected at least one championship in the NHL, NFL, MLB, and NBA.

Based at Subaru Park on the southwest of the city, Curtin's side are not within the traditional hub that sees the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers operate in the bustling sports complex that houses three arenas and a retail and entertainment centre. Union are not on the outside looking in, though.

"Our club has got links and relationships with so many organisations," Wilson said. "Our marketing people talk about a five-sport city, so we have got basketball, football, baseball and hockey, which are the four traditional biggest sports, and now soccer.

"We have relationships and links with those clubs and we share ideas. It is informal but it absolutely happens.

"A lot of the staff that I have now would like to go and visit Rangers or Celtic or Chelsea or Man United and I say they should go to the Eagles or the Flyers or the 76ers. What better example are you going to get of top level sport than that?"

It is not just the organisations closer to home that Wilson has tapped into. He spent a week in Texas earlier this month at a youth tournament that has seen his academy kids go head-to-head with the best of their peers from across the country at the home of Dallas FC.

A recent presentation, arranged through a contact of the Union ownership, saw Troy Flanagan of the Milwaukee Bucks outline the processes that would take them on to their first NBA Championship in fifty years with victory over the Phoenix Suns.

"It was about the importance of small details and how they went from being knocking on the door of the NBA to winning it," Wilson said. "They hadn’t won it at that point, but he went through all the steps they had taken and it was absolutely clear how they worked.

"I remember when I was at Rangers the guys used to say that the wee things are the big things. That was one of the points I took away from there.

"It is true. The wee things are the big things. The details matter.

"In these top sports, you find that is what they focus on. It is on our doorstep and it would be wrong not to take advantage of it."

The glitz, glamour and razzamatazz of American sports, as well as the finance of those involved, ensured living and working on the east coast was always going to be a unique prospect for Wilson.

There is a rightful sense of achievement in what has been done alongside Ernst Tanner, the sporting director and former high-flyer with the Red Bull organisation. It is all about the American dream, but Wilson's Glasgow upbringing still permeates his work.

"The culture is totally different and the quality of the athlete in this country is different to what you are exposed to in Scotland," Wilson said. "When I came over here, the west of Scotland mentality was something that one of the owners, Richie Graham, who had been in Scotland, was attracted to.

"He liked the blue collar nature of our work, the humility, the nobody is better than anyone else approach and everyone gets the sleeves rolled up and stuck in. I have tried to bring some of that here.

"There are the challenges that we face when you live in a country of this size. But I would say overall the level of player, the level of play, the quality of teams, has consistently improved since I have been here.

"We have been at the forefront of that, one of the leaders in that sphere. I think we are starting to show the benefit of that."

As he approaches a decade in the States, Wilson still looks back at Scotland with a keen interest. There is the emotional attachment of his family that still live in Glasgow and a professional one from his time at Rangers and work with the Scottish FA, most notably alongside Archie Gemmill and the Scotland Under-19s that reached the finals of the European Championships before losing to Spain.

At 60, the former St Mirren hero still has plenty to offer in the game where he lived and worked for so long. He is older and wiser for his time away.

"It used to be that we went out and visited and brought ideas back," Wilson said. "In the last four or five years at our place, I have had people from all over the world visiting every month.

"I do think there is the ability to, even if you only learn one thing, you learn one thing everywhere you go and it can help to make you better.

"The ownership are experienced, successful businessman and I have to deal with them every single day. I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned. I am in a much stronger position now than when I came over.

"I think the game in Scotland has come on since I left and I have kept in touch with people who are there. I think a collaboration would be better, a case of the more you share the more you learn.

"I don’t think I could come back and be the font of all knowledge but there will be things Scotland can learn."

In time, Wilson may well be driving that process once again back in familiar territory. He returns here when he can, but he retains the motivation and the ambition to strive for further successes Stateside.

Philly is still home from home for Wilson. As he builds for tomorrow at Union, it remains to be seen what the long-term future holds for him.

"I have had a few interesting opportunities," Wilson said. "My intention would be, at some point in the future, to return.

"I have got a very good job here. I feel I am much better now at my job and all the aspects of it.

"I have learned a lot from Ernst and the Red Bull clubs have been very successful in player development. They have got a unique game model, a style of play, and I have implemented that at our club.

"It has worked, for sure. We have an ownership group who say that one of our pillars is innovation. We have invested and I have learned so much since I have been here.

"Working for an American club, an American company, I have experiences that I don’t think I would have learned back home. Whenever I do come back, I think will be much better for this experience."