New Aberdeen signing Ross McCrorie admits he had to leave his beloved Rangers for the sake of his career.
The midfielder was hailed as a future Ibrox great by former boss Pedro Caixinha after being handed his first-team debut in September 2017.
Current manager Steven Gerrard also spoke about the Scotland Under-21 international with excitement when he took over a year later.
But, despite playing a major role during the former Liverpool skipper’s maiden term in the Light Blues’ hot seat, McCrorie more recently found himself languishing beneath Ryan Jack, Steven Davis, Joe Aribo, Glen Kamara and Scott Arfield in Gerrard’s midfield pecking order.
Now aged 22 and having spent last year on loan at Portsmouth, the boyhood Rangers supporter admits he has no further time to waste as he hopes to relaunch his career at Pittodire under Derek McInnes’ tutelage.
McCrorie – who initially joins the Dons on a season-long loan but has agreed a three-year contract which will begin we he makes his switch permanent next summer – told RedsTV: “I feel at the age I am at I just want to be playing regular first-team football.
“That’s why I told Rangers I wanted to leave. It’s for the good of my career that I had to leave, to develop as a player. I feel Aberdeen is the right place for me to improve myself.
“Aberdeen is a massive club, so I was flattered when I heard the club was interested in me. I spoke to the gaffer and when he explained about the ambition here, that made it a no-brainer.
“I’m really happy that I will join on a permanent deal after this season. It’s a huge club. There’s a lot of history around with the club’s success in European football as well.
“Everything that the gaffer said was right for me and I felt immediately as if this was the place for me to come and move my game on. I’ve played against Aberdeen in the past and what I liked about the gaffer is that he knew exactly how I played.
“I can play a few different positions, but I am more or less a centre midfielder. Last season I was at Portsmouth and I played right-back down there. At Rangers, over the last couple of seasons I have played in centre midfield. Being able to play a few different positions can help out the team and the gaffer and it gives him a few different options.”
McCrorie was unable to end Rangers’ nine-year wait for major honours during his Ibrox days but hopes to finally get his hands on a first winners’ medal with the Dons.
“I have been used to playing under the pressure and expectations of supporters and I think I thrive on it,” he said. “The expectation is really high at Aberdeen, you are expected to be up there challenging. I want to help the team out as best as I can and win a few trophies on the way.”
McCrorie is available for Thursday’s rearranged trip to St Johnstone – but it is Sunday’s Pittodrie clash with Livingston and twin brother Robby which is already jumping off the fixture list.
“I don’t think we have ever played against each other at any level as we have always grown up together in the same team,” he said. “So if we both play on Sunday, it could be the first time that we have played against each other.”
McCrorie later thanked Rangers and the Ibrox faithful, tweeting: “After well over ten years at Rangers I’ve finally decided it’s time for me to move on and further my career.
“Everyone that has been involved in my journey within the club to get me to where I am today ever since I stepped in the door at nine years old, I am forever grateful for your help to develop me as a player and also as the person I am today.
“To the fans, thank you for supporting me throughout the years, it’s appreciated very much.”
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