Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell finally completed his move to Third Division champions Rangers yesterday and immediately rejected claims that dropping two divisions suggests a lack of ambition on his part.
Indeed, he expects that, by the time his contract at Ibrox is due to expire in 2017, the Glasgow club will be challenging for the championship in the top tier and also competing in Europe.
Given the seemingly interminable internal divisions and dirty tricks at boardroom level, plus admitted losses of £1m per month for the first seven months following the takeover of the born-again club by the current investors (whoever they may be), that may seem overly ambitious but Bell, no stranger to adversity, believes it can be done. At the very least, he anticipates being back in the SPL (or whatever it may be called) within two years.
“That’s my ambition and I’m sure it’s the club ambition as well,” he said. “We’ve got high, high standards here.
“We need to meet them as players. You need to be a winner here. We want to win every game, we need to win every game.
“That’s the hunger I’ve got inside me. I’ve always wanted to be a winner and that’s why I’ve come to this football club. I want to win things.
“It’s a long-term plan for me. I want to play in the SPL with Rangers. I want to be back in Europe with Rangers, where they belong.”
Bell also refuted accusations that he moved for financial, rather than footballing reasons, revealing that he turned down more lucrative offers from English clubs when his last deal at Rugby Park ended two years ago and that he also ignored siren calls from down south to sign for Ally McCoist.
“Money’s never been a factor in this at all,” he said. “There were other clubs interested in me but it was just the sheer size of Rangers.
“If somebody said to me: ‘We’ll offer you a two-year deal with Rangers in the SPL’ then of course you would sign it. Right now, though, you need to take the stepping stone with Rangers and go on the journey with them to where they should be.
“I think I’m ambitious because I’ve signed for Rangers. I would totally disagree with anybody who says it was just about money.
“I stayed at Kilmarnock [in 2011] because I needed more game time, I needed experience. I’m 26, which is reasonably young as a goalie, and at that time I needed to stay longer at Kilmarnock to gain that experience.
“Now was the right time for me to move and when Rangers came calling and wanted to speak to me, as soon as I heard what they had to say it was a done deal.
“Everything they said was positive. They’ve got the facilities, they want to move forward: everything is in place.
“It’s going to take time to get back to the top but I want to be part of that.”
Certainly, no-one should doubt Bell’s determination to reach the top with Rangers, especially in light of the truly horrific knee ligament damage he sustained while on loan at Montrose, an injury described by Kilmarnock’s club doctor as the worst he had ever seen. “The doctor had actually told the physio at the time that he didn’t think I’d play again, although they kept that from me until about a year later.
“That’s how bad my knee was. It’s taken a long time to overcome it. It was hard work at the time but that always pays off and I think that’s what I’ve got to get into my head. Hopefully, it will bring medals and success here as well.
“It wasn’t a concern for my medical [with Rangers]. It was a long time ago and I’ve not had any problems for four or five years. I was out on loan at Montrose at the time. It happened during a game when I was facing a penalty.
“My knee was already injured and I was going one way and the boy put the ball to the other side. I tried to twist back that way and just collapsed. My knee had completely gone.
“It was difficult when I found out the whole situation. The physio at Kilmarnock, Alex McQueen, was brilliant. He worked long and hard with me in the gym for a year.”
McQueen was not the only recipient of Bell’s gratitude: Billy Thomson, his specialist coach at Kilmarnock and himself a former Rangers goalkeeper, was presented with a bottle of malt whisky as a thank you for services rendered.
“Billy’s been great my whole career and brought me on as a goalkeeper,” he said. “He gave me a bit of advice, which was to go in and work hard.
“He said it’s a great place, one where I’ll be looked after. He told me he knows I’m good enough to do it and hearing that is a great boost to me.
“It’s the size of the club, it’s still the club it’s always been. You look at their training facilities and they are second to none.
“The stadium’s fantastic, too. If all of that can’t make you a better player then nothing can.
“The opportunities here are massive, so there was never a doubt in my head that Rangers have gone backwards. They are where they are but it’s still a huge club.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.”