Football/Soccer

Rangers fan Gareth McAuley 'honoured and privileged' by Ibrox move

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley holds off Norway's Alexander Soderlund during a World Cup Qualifier at the Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo in 2017. Picture: William Cherry/Presseye.
Andy Newport

New Rangers defender Gareth McAuley has revealed his delight at signing for his boyhood heroes.

The former West Brom centre-back becomes Steven Gerrard's 15th summer signing after agreeing a one-year Ibrox deal.

The 38-year-old has been a free agent since leaving the Hawthorns following the Baggies' relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season.

But the Northern Ireland international - who has won 79 caps for his country and was part of Michael O'Neill's squad at Euro 2016 - says his move to Glasgow fulfils a lifelong ambition.

He told RangersTV: "It's massive for me personally. My family support the club and me myself as well.

"The street I was born on, the kerbs are painting red, white and blue so to get the opportunity to play for this famous club is amazing.

"I'm delighted to be here. I feel very honoured to be here and privileged as well.

"I hope to bring experience. There is a young group of players here and hopefully I can help them with my knowledge, develop them and challenge them to play in the team."

Gerrard confirmed a move for McAuley was close following Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park.

McAuley began his career with Linfield and went on to have spells in his homeland with Ballyclare Comrades, Crusaders and Coleraine, before earning a move to England in 2004 as he joined Lincoln.

He spent two years with the League Two outfit before his form earned him a move to then-Championship outfit Leicester, spending two seasons there before moving to Ipswich for a three-year stint.

He then made the step up to England's top flight in 2011 as he joined West Brom and he would go on to spend seven seasons with the club, making 203 appearances.

The highlight of his international career came when he netted Northern Ireland's first goal at a tournament in 30 years in their 2-0 defeat of Ukraine at Euro 2016.

McAuley will join up with his new Gers team-mates when he returns from international duty following the up-coming double header with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill last week included defender McAuley (who was without a club then after being released by West Brom in June), stating: “It's important for Gareth to be in this squad but is it realistic for me to think Gareth could play in these games?

“That is something I'll determine before the Bosnia game and then the friendly against Israel but it is important to have him in the squad and it's important people don't forget about him.

“People will maybe look at his age as a deterring factor; I know what he's capable of. I know what his fitness levels are and going forward for me he is still a massive player.”

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