'I wasn’t happy to leave Rangers' - Popular £3m star reveals why he had to exit 'great club' to achieve dream
The Portuguese midfielder was a hugely popular figure amongst the Ibrox support during his eighteen months at the club. A £3million signing from Portsmouth in the summer of 2008, he would go on to play a vital role in the 2008/09 Scottish Premier League title win, scoring four goals in 42 appearances in all competitions. One of those goals arrived in the tile-clinching game against Dundee United at Tannadice.
Injury cost him a place in the Scottish Cup final team and limited his game time in the first half of the following campaign. Mendes would go on to leave in the winter of 2009, returning to Portugal to join Sporting CP. He explained why he didn’t want to depart but felt he had to.
"“I wanted to play at the World Cup and I felt if I move to Sporting I would have a better chance of making the squad and that’s what happened," Mendes told Grosvenor Sport. “I played every game in 2010 in South Africa and it was a dream come true.
"I think I had been left out unfairly before that but I knew I had to leave Scottish football to have a better chance. I wasn’t happy to leave Rangers because they were a huge club but I knew that players in La Liga or Serie A would be picked [for Portugal] ahead of me. I think now it’s different. People have seen Rangers beat Porto and Braga in Europe so they know that Scottish football is different now.”
‘Don't kill me on my first night’
Mendes loved his time at Rangers and knew straight away that he had fallen in love with the Glasgow giants. Although he did fear for his life when he was taken on a night out by his new team-mates.
“The story of how signed for Rangers is unbelievable," he said. “I took my wife to London on the Tuesday for a couple of days as we were not due to train until Thursday. On Wednesday I got a phone call saying ‘Pedro, Rangers are in for you, what do you think?’ and I had to quick look to see what was happening there and I said to my wife ‘I think we have to pack again’. She was never happy when we had to pack! I knew immediately – great club, great fan base, great facilities and it was going to be a great challenge so I said let’s go – fight for the title, fight for the Champions League, it all made sense.
“Then I was on a flight to Glasgow on Friday morning, I did the medical which was fine, a quick jog around the pitch at the training ground and then I was in the team the next day at Ibrox and played the full 90 minutes against Hearts. The players took me out after we won 2-0 and I was still sipping my first beer and there were another three thrown in front of me! I said ‘Don’t kill me on my first night’.”
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