“There are always rumours flying about when you come to a club of this size. But I don’t think a manager would sign a player who he didn’t like,” says the 30-year-old, who agreed a one-year deal with the Championship side on Friday. “He’s been brilliant since I came in and he’s been great since we spoke on the phone ten days ago. It’s been a pain in the a*** in getting it over the finishing line as we have both been on holiday. But we are there now and it’s done so I’m looking forward to working under him and I want to hit the ground running, just as I did the last time. I want to score goals at the same rate as before.”
Considering Boyd netted 22 times last season to allow a struggling Kilmarnock to retain their top-flight status, the chances are the peerless plunderer will net at a higher rate than when previously ensconced at Ibrox for four years in his early 20s. Then he played for a Rangers that claimed top flight titles. Now they are a second-tier side focused simply on winning a place in the upper stratum of the Scottish game.
In declining a more lucrative contract with Aberdeen, and rejecting offers from Dundee United and Kilmarnock, Boyd has made plain his motivations. “I could have earned more money but for me it’s not about that. I’ve been about and earned a good wage over the last few years and there’s a lot to be said about being happy and being back home,” he states, his earnings with Middlesbrough, Eskisehirspor, and Portland Timbers setting him up for life, if not supplying him with much footballing satisfaction. “The big thing was to come back and enjoy my football. I did that last season and I feel a lot better within myself and this move gives me an opportunity to take it to another scale with Rangers. It’s a massive club with a massive fanbase who demand results. I may be 30 years old but I still want to improve.”
He has achieved that in his recent years – both as a player and a person. On the playing side, it has been paradoxically not playing that has been the catalyst for development. “My link-up play has improved and I think a lot of the times when you are out of the team you end up working on different things. When you are in the team you play the game, then you might not train until Tuesday/Wednesday because of your recovery. When you are out of the team you work a lot harder and for me that was a bonus. It taught me a lot more about the game, I was working with younger kids and able to help them.
“I have openly said the big thing for me was doing my coaching badges. That gave me a totally different outlook on the game and it is one I think I have taken on to the pitch and I think I benefited from that last year and I hope I can get myself in this Rangers team and start scoring goals again.
“When I left Rangers and I found myself in the team one week and out of it for two, three maybe, it was difficult to take because I was always used to playing. I probably went about dealing with it the wrong way. You know you are getting paid so you didn’t really bother about it. I should have knuckled down and worked hard to get back in the team.
“But it is part of a learning curve. I’ve come through that and found myself back at Kilmarnock last year with a point to prove. A lot of people were saying I’d come back and p*** about, and that I was finished. The big thing was getting myself back fit and I’m coming back here hungrier than ever.”
Not in all senses. He is not hungry to be the jack-the-lad-about-town as he was in his younger days, which he said this year made being a Rangers player at times a “suffocating” experience.
“Rest assured”, Boyd maintains, he will be a “totally different person from the last time” when it comes to off-field activities.
“Then I was a young boy. When you grow up you realise there are places you can’t go, things you can’t do. For me, I was 21, 22, 23, 24 and at the time probably got myself involved in scenarios I shouldn’t have done. I don’t want to go out anymore, I can’t really be bothered with it, I’ve got the kids.
“If you let Glasgow get a hold of you, it will take a hold of you. If you get yourself out the road of it, you can go and enjoy your life, you can play your football. You could go back and do it again, if you wanted. You could go back and hang about Glasgow, and it will happen. I won’t have been the first, and won’t be the last.
“For me, I stay well out the road. I am happy with my family. Spending time with them is the most important thing now, rather than going round to mates, having a drink and going and doing things you shouldn’t, like messing about at snooker halls or whatever. For me, it is totally changed and I have totally changed. But there isn’t going to be a lot of difference on the pitch – I showed last year what I can do, with getting in positions and scoring goals, and that is the challenge I look forward to. There is no greater feeling than scoring in this jersey in front of 50,000 fans at a game.”