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Andy Halliday opens up on Rangers exit as Ibrox midfielder rules out SPFL stay

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Rangers star Andy Halliday admits he's gutted to be leaving the club next week but insists he's lived his childhood dream.

The versatile midfielder is one of six players being released at the end of their contracts having spent five topsy-turvy years at the club he grew up supporting.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, Halliday discusses the ups-and-downs of his Ibrox career and is full of praise for Steven Gerrard and his coaching staff.

From his first season in reaching the Scottish Cup Final and winning promotion to the top flight, to being an outcast in Azerbaijan and back to being a key player for Gerrard, it's certainly not been a dull time for Halliday at Ibrox.

And now Halliday admits he doubts he'll play anymore football in Scotland because he'd struggle to pull on a jersey that wasn't Rangers' and is targeting a move Stateside to the MLS.

The 28-year-old has played in the lower leagues of England in the past and fancies a new challenge as he reaches what he feels will be the peak of his career.

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He told The Athletic: “It’s something I’ve kind of known since the turn of the year. I had a couple of conversations with the gaffer (Steven Gerrard) since the start of the season about my future but I want to respect our conversations as he has been brilliant with me since the day he came in and has always been honest.

“Obviously, I wanted to stay and there were times when it looked like there might be a contract on the table but, regardless, I’ve got no bitterness. The most difficult part for me is that I won’t get a chance to say goodbye to the players and the people at the training ground who I’ve built a really good relationship with.

“It would have been nice to play a game at Ibrox and thank them for everything they’ve given to me. They’ve been unbelievable with me and I’m going to miss them. Unfortunately, it’s just the way of the world just now and there are people more struck by this than I am. I’m just the wee boy who cried wolf.

“It was my club I was playing for so it’s never going to feel the same, but I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’m 28 and I’m going into the prime years of my career. Whoever I am going to, I hope I will be a big asset. I think the reason players say that they miss Rangers when they leave is not just the facilities and the fanbase, you enjoy the expectation that you have to be a winner. It’s not even wanting to win, it’s the fear of losing.

(Image: Rangers FC/PA Images)

“I can’t (imagine himself playing for another Scottish team). I don’t mean any other club disrespect by that. I’d 100 per cent be interested in MLS. It’s something that has been growing over the years and there are big names who they’ve attracted but the news is still pretty raw so I’m just trying to keep myself as fit as possible and assess my options.”

Halliday has also thanked Gerrard for saving his Rangers career and admits it was all but over when the Liverpool legend took over at the club in the summer of 2018.

Having been bombed out under Pedro Caixinha and then caught up in the fallout of Graeme Murty's interim time in charge, Halliday wasn't supposed to be heading on the pre-season trip to Marbella.

But it was the time under Caixinha that left him baffled when the Portuguese had initially told him he wanted to build a team around the midfielder.

And the former Middlesbrough and Bradford midfielder admits things changed pretty quickly when he realised Caixinha wasn't up to the job.

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He added: “It was the exact opposite of being told I wasn’t his player. He kept telling me how he wanted to build a team around me. I don’t want to bad-mouth anyone but he wasn’t the right man for the job and had no clue what the league was like.

"His attention to detail in the defensive side of the game was superb but he’d have watched Motherwell play Kilmarnock and he would say, ‘This is how they are going to play’. We all knew that they ain’t coming to Ibrox and doing that as we’d have 80 per cent of the ball. My relationship turned pretty sour with him pretty quickly.

“People saw it as a strange move but I couldn’t see Pedro lasting the year so, if I did six months, I’d be back and it would be a new manager. Pretty early I regretted the decision when I found out that in the Azerbaijan league games they could only play four foreign players and we had 12 of them.

"They signed six or seven players that summer just to play the Europa League so I phoned my agent and said, ‘I need out of here’, but it was too late. I couldn’t watch the Rangers games anywhere so I ended up going to the Baku supporters’ club for some games. They were all Scottish guys and we all got on really well.”


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