Joey Barton has dismissed his previous declarations of support for Celtic and pledged that no Rangers fan will have any cause to doubt his commitment to the Ibrox club.
The former England midfielder, who will formally join Rangers on a two-year deal on 1 July, has stated in the past he is a Celtic fan on his prolific Twitter account.
But Barton, whose tweets since agreeing to sign for Rangers have included repeating a quote from their legendary manager Bill Struth, insists he already feels a bond with his new club.
“How can you come here and not embrace it?” said Barton. “This is what it is about. Reading Bill Struth’s famous line about what it takes to be a player for Rangers, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. And you think ‘This is a bit of me.’
“I never ever said I wouldn’t sign for Rangers. The reality is that you say a lot of things on social media and if you follow my Twitter feed I have probably offended the whole world at some point!
“So you can delve into it and find what you want in there to set an agenda against me. Such is the nature of someone who has opinions like I do.
“But look, the reality of it is I am an Everton fan. I was a born and bred Evertonian, my family loved football and were steeped in a great footballing city just like Glasgow is.
“You are forced to take sides. When Madrid play Barca, who are you supporting? You have got to pick one. When Inter Milan and AC Milan play, you have to pick one.
“Obviously with Celtic and Rangers, the world stops to watch that game, and you are forced to pick sides.
“With my name being Joseph Anthony, and my grandmother being Roman Catholic, and me going to St Agnes junior school and St Thomas Becket Catholic High School, I didn’t have pretty much anywhere else to go! That is pretty much who you are going to support.
“But I don’t think anybody will be under any illusions, once I pull on the Rangers jersey, about who I will support.
“Everywhere I have been in my career – and as a footballer it sounds strange to say this – but you stop supporting. I was an Evertonian who grew up supporting Everton and, when t6hey released me at 14, I was absolutely devastated, going home crying my eyes out. You learn the harsh realities of being the professional footballer.
“Then you go and play for other clubs – Manchester City, Newcastle, QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and you give your absolute all for the jersey. I left with a great rapport with the fans and at City and at all the other teams, I have always felt at one with the fans. It is about me being committed.”
Barton said he was not motivated by money.
He added: “When I turn up, you will see from the way I play I am never playing for money. If I was playing for money I would stayed south of the border or gone to some far-flung land where they are chucking the money about.
“I am beyond that. Not in a self righteous way, I just am.
“There is more to life and I have found that out during some of my dark periods as well as the light periods. There are more important things in this world than noughts on a pay cheque, far more.
“That was one of the most important things for me coming to Rangers.
“Just knowing the challenge and knowing what it takes to be successful in this organisation.”