Kyle Lafferty reveals daily abuse, regret over sectarian remark and explains surprise move to Johnstone Burgh

Kyle Lafferty has revealed he receives abuse on a daily basis as he opened up on his regret over the sectarian remark that earned him a 10-game suspension from the Scottish FA.

The Northern Irishman served his ban while at Kilmarnock last season after a video of him making the comment to a Celtic fan was posted on social media in September. He was also disciplined by his club as well as being sent home by the Northern Ireland national team.

He left Rugby Park by mutual consent just a few weeks after his suspension expired in January and finished the season playing in his homeland with Linfied before making a surprise return to Scotland this week to sign for seventh-tier side Johnstone Burgh.

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"Obviously I regret what I said. I shouldn't have said it," Lafferty told Sky Sports. "I had one or two drinks in me and someone tried to take the mickey a wee bit. I obviously reacted in the wrong way but I thnk everyone has to realise that I get that every single day of my life. I get stuff said about my kids and my family. It's no excuse for what I said, but the bigger picture, I get abused every singe day of my life. Whenever I go round the corner for a pint of milk or a newspaper someone will try and wind me up. I usually just laugh at them and one incidence that I reacted and it's a headline in probably most of the UK. It's one of those things I have to get on with. I've come out and apologised and I move on."

Former Rangers, Hearts and Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty has signed for Johnstone Burgh in the West of Scotland League First Division. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Former Rangers, Hearts and Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty has signed for Johnstone Burgh in the West of Scotland League First Division. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Former Rangers, Hearts and Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty has signed for Johnstone Burgh in the West of Scotland League First Division. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Lafferty's second spell at Kilmarnock ended abruptly but the 35-year-old had nothing but praise for the way his former club and manager Derek McInnes dealt with the situation.

"I did hold my hands up but I have to give massive credit to Kilmarnock for the way they handled it. They've stepped in straight away, punished me for doing it and they stuck by me which was massive for me. The manager there was really brilliant towards me and the owners of Kilmarnock all stood behind me which was massive for me and my family. As I said, there's no excuses for what I've done. I just move on now and let my football do the talking."

Lafferty is a self-confessed Rangers fan - he had two spells at Ibrox and won three league titles, a Scottish Cup, and two League Cups - but the striker, who also counts Hearts, Sunderland, Norwich and Burnley among his former clubs insists he now also has loyalties towards Killie.

"I loved my time at Kilmarnock. That's why I spent two periods of my career there. I had a great relationship with the fans, the manager and the club itself and the everyone arond it. It's just one of those things, I've moved on, but I'll look out for their results every single week. Everyone knows I'm a Rangers fan but Kilmarnock will be the team I look out for as well. I have a massive space for them in my heart and wish them all the best for the season."Lafferty also revealed that he turned down offers to play at a much higher level in order to sign a two-year contract at Johnstone Burgh, who play in the West of Scotland League First Division.

"I was given offers in the Championship, League One and League Two in England," he said.

"But I've been away from home, been away from my kids and my wife for a massive part of their lives and I think I just had to stop being selfish and be at home when the kids want me to be and drop them off at school and stuff like that.

"I think I owe it to them to be based in Scotland again and watch them grow up.

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"I'm going to be 36 in September, I've signed here for two years and I'm going to see out my contract here. Once those two years are done and if I feel good and the club wants to keep me longer then I'll be happy to.

"If an offer comes along and the club wants to look at it then obviously it's up to them but I'll be happy here."

Lafferty will now count Keanie Park as his home ground and will be visiting similar junior venues such as Drumchapel United, Cambuslang Rangers and Kilbirnie Ladeside across the next two seasons. He is expecting a hostile reception on his travels – but none more so than previously experienced at Scottish Premiership stadiums.

"I'm pretty sure I'll get welcomed in some places," he added. "I'm pretty sure I've been booed at every Scottish ground I've played at! It's part of the job, half the fans will love you, half the fans will hate you."

And on the prospect of being singled out for heavy treatment by opposition defenders, he added: "I'm used to it - people getting in my ear, giving me an odd punch or a nip but I'm big enough to look after myself on the pitch.

"If anyone has seen me play you'll know I'm not shy of an elbow or a tussle."

Laferty, who has 89 international caps and 134 career goals behind him, is the second high profile signing Johnstone Burgh have secured this summer after also convincing his former Rangers and Norwich team-mate Graham Dorrans to join.

Manager Jamie McKim said: “It's massively exciting. The talks have been ongoing for a few weeks, with the new investor coming in. The first few weeks were more about feeling each other out. Kyle doing his homework, seeing what we're about. Then he came down to training, seen what the standard is like and with Graham being here as well, he got a lot of information from him. We’re delighted to get it over the line.”



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