Telly star Reece in Ton deal
Published: 18 Aug 2011 12:000 comments
The 17-year-old took part in Sky 1's reality TV show, Football's Next Star, finishing eighth out of 7,000 entrants from the UK and Ireland in the quest to earn a one-year deal from then-Inter manager Jose Mourinho.
Since participating in the show - in which he was singled out for special praise by the Nerazzurri's head youth coach Pierluigi Casiraghi - McGillion spent a year as a full-time professional with Hamilton Accies, but was released upon their relegation from the SPL at the end of last season.
And Laird, pictured, is says he is delighted to have enticed McGillion to join his under-19s squad, having followed his progress over a prolonged period of time.
He told the Tele: "I've known about Reece since he was with Barrhead Boys' Club when I ran the young Port Glasgow team.
"He was playing above himself even then, featuring for the under-16s when he was only 14.
"Reece then got to the final 10 of the Football's Next Star TV programme with Jose Mourinho and Jamie Redknapp, and did really well by finishing in eighth place.
"The boys went through an intensive eight-week training programme with two top Inter youth coaches, and Mourinho came to two of their sessions. After coming back to this country, he had a trial with Sheffield United for four or five weeks but couldn't settle and came back up to Scotland.
"That was a year ago, and we tried to sign him then, but we couldn't get him because he signed a full-time deal with Hamilton.
"He got an injury there and didn't really break through, so upon hearing he was a free agent we got the wheels in motion and managed to bring him here on a one-year youth contract last week."
McGillion made his competitive debut for the Ton under-19 side on Sunday as they kicked off their 2011/12 league campaign with a 3-1 over Airdrie United at the Battery Park.
He started at left-back and put in an assured performance, including setting up Conor Ramsay's opening goal with a precision free-kick.
And Laird believes that the Glaswegian teenager has the potential to emulate fellow under-19 starlets Creag Little and Alistair Deans and come into consideration for the first-team.
He added: "Allan Moore has been brilliant for us, and I now think he has the opportunity to cast his eye backwards at these sorts of boys rather than looking externally.
"Previously the boys just weren't good enough for the first team. But now we have players like Creagy, Alistair and Reece, who are of a very good standard and give Allan another option.
"I think Reece is capable of getting involved with the first team, and by Christmas time he most certainly will be capable after training three nights a week with us in the under-19s."