James Sands to Rangers: Former Celtic boss played big role in transfer to Ibrox
USA international midfielder Sands, who joined the Scottish champions on an initial 18-month loan deal from New York City, has revealed Deila was fully behind his decision to move to the other side of the city where the Norwegian coach won three major trophies while in charge of Celtic from 2014 to 2016.
Sands was a key member of Deila’s squad at New York City, helping the franchise win their first ever MLS Cup when they beat Portland Timbers in the final in December, and he was eager to lean on his knowledge of Scottish football.
“He was really good about it,” said Sands. “Having won a trophy with him in New York, that kind of made things a little bit easier. He was always supportive from the beginning.
“He talked to me about what his experience was like at Celtic. He told me about the league and shared some tips.
“I spoke to (former Rangers midfielder) Claudio Reyna as well because I know him from my time in New York. Those two guys were big influences on the move. I’m happy I talked to them, for sure.”
Sands has gone straight into the Rangers starting line-up under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, playing in both of their first two post-winter break Premiership fixtures against Aberdeen and Livingston in a holding midfield position.
“It’s great for a young player to be able to experience that,” said the 21-year-old. “I knew the boss had big expectations for me and he showed that a little bit in starting me away at Aberdeen and at home the other night.
“It was obviously a big challenge and each game I’ll get better and I’ll learn a little bit more. I’m just looking forward to keeping improving.
“The holding midfielder role is definitely where I’m most comfortable. At my previous club, I bounced around a little bit and I’ve played centre-back for the national team as well.
“But I’m definitely more comfortable at holding mid. That’s a big reason why I came here. They saw me in that position so I think that’s definitely my No 1.”
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