DAVID MARTINDALE has had to overcome plenty in his private life to stand on the verge of a cup final with Livingston, but he has revealed a broken leg that ruined his chances of making the grade as a player with Rangers remains his biggest football regret.

The Lions manager’s rehabilitation following a conviction for drugs charges and a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence in 2006 makes his story a compelling one ahead of this weekend’s Betfred Cup final against St Johnstone.

His determination and strength of character shown in being able to rebuild his life from the low of those darkest days in a Barlinnie cell will ensure few will grudge him and the West Lothian club a Hampden hurrah.

However, even before his desperation slipped into criminality as an adult, Martindale has confessed he made some dubious choices that cost him what could have been a brighter future as a youngster in the beautiful game.

He explained: “Rangers had the local soccer schools and they had all the best players in the regional areas. I was training and there were 50 of us.

“They kept two of us back and said they were going to put us into the system. I think it was YTS at the time - then three or four weeks later I broke my leg.

“I was training with Rangers at 15 or 16, but my pals were always chapping my door trying to get me to play with them because I was the best player.

“I wasn’t allowed to play but I went and played against a pub team in Bathgate and the big centre-half snapped my leg in two. I broke by fibula and my tibia.

“Rangers found out about it and just pulled the plug. They pied me.

The National:

READ MORE: Ian Maxwell apologises to Hibs and Accies and explains Bobby Madden's Celtic absence

“I wasn’t bright enough at the time to realise that had been an opportunity. I was out training with Rangers and Motherwell were interested.

“But I just ran about the streets with my pals. That was probably not being switched on.”

But, as he looks forward to leading Livingston’s tilt at silverware at the national stadium on Sunday, Martindale admits hindsight is a wonderful thing.

He added: “I was out of football for 18 months. I wasn’t doing rehab or going to see physios, I was just waiting to get my stookie off so I could go back playing football with my pals.

“I’ll be honest with you, at the time I probably didn’t care or gave it a second’s thought and I just moved on, playing football with my pals.

“But it’s probably my biggest regret in football looking back.

“I was very loyal to my friends and the teams I’d played with. We’d all grown up together in the scheme and we played Saturday football, Sunday football. It was quite territorial.

“People were saying I could play higher, I could go and play for Stenhousemuir, but I just played football with my pals and that’s probably to my detriment, if I’m honest now.

“I didn’t see it like that at the time - but I do now.”