SCOTT Allan believes it should no longer be regarded as a major issue for a boyhood Rangers fan to cross Glasgow’s great football divide and sign for Celtic.
The midfielder was formally paraded as a Celtic player at a media conference yesterday, having completed his £275,000 move from Hibs to the Scottish champions late on Friday night.
The transfer has been the source of considerable disquiet among Rangers supporters, who had been widely anticipating Allan joining the Ibrox club.
But, after Hibs rejected three bids from Rangers for the 23-year-old and declared they would not sell him to their Championship rivals under any circumstances, Celtic stepped in last week to sign the former Dundee United and West Bromwich Albion player.
Allan feels the significance of his past allegiance to Rangers has been overstated, especially as several of Celtic’s greatest players – such as Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain – also favoured the blue half of the Old Firm when they were growing up in Glasgow.
“It’s 2015, you know what I mean?,” said Allan. “Things have moved on, Celtic have had great players in the past who have done it.
He added: “For me, it’s just about working hard, trying to force my way into the Celtic team and taking it from there.
“I have to look after my best interests and for me to progress, this is the right move for me. The thought process for me when I heard Celtic were interested was ‘what’s best for my football career?’. That’s why I made the decision.
“It was as clear as that – going up a division and the chance of European football. It’s the chance for me to train and develop with really good international players.
“This is the decision I made for my best interests. I’m sure there will be other players who go on to do well for them [Rangers].”
When Hibs blocked his transfer request last month and stated they would not sell him to Rangers, it was suggested Allan would simply wait until the January transfer window before signing a pre-contract agreement with Mark Warburton’s side. But he insists that was never an option.
“No, not for me,” he said. “When Celtic came in, I weighed up those factors and it was easy for me.”
Allan also firmly denied his decision had in any way been motivated by greater financial terms on offer at Celtic.
“No, it was purely football terms,” he added. “It’s the chance to go up a division and the prospect of European football. If you ask any player, nine times out of ten they would make this decision and that’s what I’ve done.”
Hibs manager Alan Stubbs has suggested Rangers made a late attempt on Friday to persuade Allan to pull out of his move to Celtic but the player claimed to be unaware of any such communication.
“No, I never spoke to Rangers,” said Allan. “I had heard whispers about Celtic but there was nothing concrete until last Thursday.
“I’ve had a lot of support from my family. They respect my decision. That’s what your family is there for. They have been fine with me.
“Were they surprised? Not really, no. They said they would support me in my footballing career because it wasn’t their decision. They stand by me.”
Allan’s closest friend is Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday who had made no secret of his desire to see the pair reunited at Ibrox.
“Andy obviously needs to look after his own best interests and that’s what I’ve done too,” said Allan. “He’s been fine with me. He is someone I have known a long time and he will respect my decision as well.
“What did he say to me? He just said ‘good luck.’ It would be interesting to be on the opposite side to him now in a Celtic-Rangers game. I look forward to it.”
Allan admits he had some reservations over how he would be received by Celtic supporters.
“But those were swept away by the warm ovation he received when he was introduced on the pitch at Celtic Park on Saturday before the Premiership fixture against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
“There was a bit of uncertainty,” said Allan. “I didn’t know what to expect.
“But when I stepped on the park, it was different class. The fans were brilliant with me and that’s something I’ll never forget.
“I just want to put it to bed now, get on the training park and start working hard. I’m delighted to be a Celtic player now.”
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths revealed at the weekend that Allan had already been subjected to some dressing-room ribbing by Scott Brown, left, and Charlie Mulgrew over his past as a Rangers supporter.
“I can’t remember what they said, to be to be honest!,” laughed Allan.
“All I remember was that it was quite funny. I’ve not done my initiation song for them yet but I am sure I will have to do it soon.”