Rangers new boy Declan John grateful to former Celtic star
The Welsh international became Rangers’ 11th and final summer signing on the closing day of the summer transfer window and hopes to make his debut for Pedro Caixinha’s side in this afternoon’s Premiership encounter against Dundee at Ibrox.
The 22-year-old made his first-team debut at the Welsh club as a teenager under Malky Mackay and featured regularly in their 2013-14 campaign in the Premier League.
He remains indebted to the influence of ex-Celtic defender Mackay, now performance director at the Scottish FA, as he looks to make a positive impression in his new surroundings.
“I played in a couple of cup ties when I was 17 for Cardiff and then Malky put me in the team for the club’s first Premier League game at West Ham,” recalls John.
“It was a brilliant experience. I played around 25 games that season and got a good run in the first team. Malky was really good. A lot of players at that age don’t get the chance to break into the first team at that level, so I was really happy he gave me that opportunity.
“He did that for me at Cardiff, so I’m sure he is only going to be good for the young players in Scotland that he’ll be working with in his new job.
“It was ultimately disappointing for me at Cardiff. It was down to changes of managers as much as anything. After Malky, I played under another four managers at the club [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Russell Slade, Paul Trollope and Warnock].
“Some managers have certain playing types, certain players, personnel they like. I’ve done quite well when I have played but it’s just about getting that chance to play regularly. It’s quite tough to show the manager when you are training. If he doesn’t give you the chance to play, then you can’t really show your talent.
“At the start of this season I had a chat with Neil Warnock and it was a case of going on loan and getting game time. Rangers are a massive club and when they come knocking, you don’t say ‘No’. It was a ‘Yes’ from me straight away.
“I’ve been here for a week now so I’m just trying to get settled in. The training has been very good. It’s been a tough few days but I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
John, who made his debut for Wales in a World Cup qualifier against Macedonia when he was 18, also hopes the move to Rangers can help him press his claims for an international recall.
“Yeah, of course,” said the Merthyr Tydfil man. “You ask any Welsh player and we all want to try to get to the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.
“I was a bit starstruck when I first got into the squad as a teenager, training alongside guys like Gareth Bale. But he’s a really down to earth, friendly guy. I want to get back into the Welsh squad but to do that, I need to play regularly at club level. Hopefully, I can do that at Rangers.”