LESS than 10 years ago, Ross Stewart was playing at the lowest level of Scottish junior football - this week the striker signed with Sunderland. 

The 24-year-old recently penned a two-and-a-half-year deal with Sunderland, with the Wearside outfit having the option to extend the deal for another year.

But how exactly did Ross Stewart go from playing in front of a few hundred people in North Ayrshire, to joining one of England’s oldest professional football clubs?

After being released from Celtic and Kilmarnock’s youth academies, Stewart joined Ardeer in 2013. Over the course of two years, he scored 31 goals in 62 appearances for the junior side.

In 2015, Kilwinning Rangers came calling for Stewart’s services and he made the move to the Buffs. He spent a year with Kilwinning, before being given the chance to make the step back into the SPFL in July 2016.Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

Albion Rovers were next on Stewart’s rise up the leagues. However, this transfer was not like many others. Then Albion Rovers boss, Darren Young, was a huge fan of 19-year-old Stewart, but the Lanarkshire side could not afford the fee to prize him away from the Junior leagues.

This was where Stewart’s dad stepped in and paid a sum of the fee to allow his son the chance to play football in the SPFL.

Again, after just one season with Albion Rovers, Stewart was on the move. This time his destination was Paisley and St Mirren. He joined the Buddies in 2017 and even scored on his debut for the club. However, he failed to get regular first-team football and was subsequently loaned out to League one side, Alloa Athletic, for the remainder of the season.Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: New Alloa Athletic man Ross Stewart with gaffer Jim Goodwin

It was in 2018 that Stewart found his form again,when he signed for Ross County for a reported fee of £40,000. He spent two and a half seasons in the Highlands, scoring 29 in 82 games in all competitions for The Staggies.

On Sunday evening, Sunderland announced they had signed the 24-year-old from the Scottish Premiership side.

An eight-year journey has taken the Ayshireman from junior football in Scotland, to League One football in the North East of England