Ipswich Town’s Ryan Stevenson is relieved he didn’t join Rangers
IPSWICH Town midfielder Ryan Stevenson has revealed he nearly signed for crisis club Glasgow Rangers.
Following much soul-searching, the proud Ayshire-born Scotsman reluctantly went on strike at former club Hearts after the financially-stricken club failed to pay him.
Old Firm duo Celtic and Rangers quickly displayed interest in the 27-year-old, whose impressive form had just seen him called up to the international squad for the first time.
However, his desire to prove himself south of the border – having been released by Chelsea as a youngster – saw him jump at the chance to sign for Ipswich on a free transfer prior to the January transfer window closing.
And how that decision looks a wise one, with cash-strapped Rangers on the verge of making several player redundancies after slipping into administration.
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“There were talks,” admitted Stevenson, when asked how close he came to joining the Gers.
“Can you imagine if I had gone from Hearts – where I wasn’t getting paid – to Rangers, who have now gone into administration? I think that would have tipped me over the edge, I would probably have just lost all faith with football.”
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Having signed for Ipswich on January 28, ultra-keen Stevenson – whose last start for Hearts was on December 17 – admits it has been frustrating having to bide his time at his new club.
The Blues thrashed high-flying West Ham 5-1 when the new boy first watched from the stands, with continued good form from the team meaning he could not even get a place on the bench.
The two-week suspension of Jimmy Bullard for a breach of club discipline meant he was named among the substitutes last weekend though, the versatile player introduced as an advanced midfielder late on in the 3-0 home win over Bristol City, before entering the play as a more traditional central midfielder in the 77th minute of Town’s 1-1 draw at table-toppers Southampton on Tuesday night.
And all this coming after attending the birth of his first child – a boy named Carter – last Tuesday.
“It’s been a busy, but enjoyable two weeks,” said Stevenson, who jetted home for the day on Wednesday to be with wife and baby. “It’s hard being away from them, but I knew the situation before I signed. I’ve managed to get on for the last two games which has been a massive boost.
“I’m just keeping my head down, working hard and trying to force my way into the manager’s plans.
“I feel very, very fortunate to be a footballer. I want to play every game because you never get these years back once you’re retired. I always think when you miss a game it’s gone forever.
“I went through a few tough months at Hearts where I wasn’t playing and now I’m really trying to make up for lost time. I’m just trying to prove every single day that I should be here.
“I signed for 18 months, but with the agreement that we would sit down at the end of this season and have a chat about how things were going.
“If the club want to get something sorted then I’ll definitely be moving the family down because it’s a lovely town and everybody has been really, really welcoming. I am more than keen to get settled here.”