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.

“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.”