Onwards and upwards?
By Kevin Armstrong
It’s about that time of the season where players start to be linked with moves away from Ibrox. Now, we all know that Alfredo Morelos has been touted for a move for over a year now and Glen Kamara has attracted interest along with a few other players with moves to the EPL.
As Rangers fans we would give almost anything to say we pulled on the famous blue jersey for even a Moses Ashikodi minute but what about the players that have the chance and then decide for one reason or another that they want to move on. Is the grass always erm for lack of a better word… greener?
In my time following Rangers (properly since about ‘92) I’ve saw legends come and go, I’ve saw mercenaries apply their trade then move on as soon as a club with a bigger wage bill came calling and I’ve now seen youth players move for decent money before even playing a first team game. But how many go on to have a great careers after they leave Ibrox? Sure some made good cash but how many can say they have a great medal collection? How many can say they achieved everything they wanted from the game or that they left a legacy along the way?
When I was growing up Rangers were the club players wanted to sign for in the prime of their career. Sure we couldn’t attract a Ronaldo ( not for lack of trying ) but below the top tier of players we had a decent chance of signing most players from decent leagues and we regularly shopped in Italy, Germany and Spain. As the years have moved on so has football, in most cases. Maybe not this backwater league of ours.
The only two I can really say that have went onto bigger and better things are Giovanni Van Bronkhurst and Rino Gattuso. Both played in World Cup finals and top level European competition while Gio went on to star for Barcelona and Holland Rino was tackling everything in sight wearing the colours of Milan and Italy.
Some players have went on to make large sums of cash playing in the lower end of the EPL and Championship down south. Ross McCormack is an example of someone who made many moves, earning a king’s ransom in the process but without really hitting the heights that he was once tipped for.
The recently retired Alan Hutton was almost driven down to London by the chairman himself when Spurs offered £9m back in 2008 but once the dust had settled on his record transfer he then lost about 3 years of his career before finally settling at Villa.
Other players who were a stand out in the SPL for example Jelavic went on to have so so careers down south and may well have topped up his bank balance but never really achieved all he could have and his international career never reached the heights of 2010/11 when he was on top for form Rangers.
Some players don’t do it just for the cash, some seek new challenges and this was very much the case when Brian Laudrup left Rangers for Chelsea at the end of his contract in 98. The great Dane had played over 115 times for Rangers between 1994-1998 scoring 33 goals and in the process cementing his place as the best foreigner ever to play in the Scottish league. Although, four years of being kicked from pillar to post and doing his level best to carry a Rangers squad to any real European success had taken its toll. Arriving in London off the back of a tremendous world cup in France 98, Laudrup would only play 7 times for Chelsea. Stating homesickness for Denmark, he was granted a transfer to Copenhagen where he played 12 games before moving to Ajax to see out his career. You can only imagine what Laudrup in an Advocaat side would have looked like with Numan behind him.
If Laudrups time at Chelsea was a nightmare then so far Billy Gilmours has been a dream, After being fast tracked through the Rangers youth system the Londoners paid around 500k for the player who was yet to make a first team appearance and since moving to London he has now been promoted to the first team squad before his 19th Birthday. For every Billy Gilmour there are plenty more examples of players like Jamie Ness and Rhys Mccabe who left Ibrox to try their luck down south only to be chewed up by the system and are now plying their trade for Brechin and Dundee respectively.
If I could give any player leaving Ibrox this summer or in the future some advice it would simply be – leave in the correct manner and pick your next move carefully. The average term of an EPL manager is 1.8 years so assess everything before you make that jump and leave behind packed home games, European runs and the backing of the biggest club in the country for a chance to play at Old Trafford and Anfield once or twice.
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