The lowdown on centre-back Connor Goldson who is set to sign for Rangers on a permanent deal from Brighton & Hove Albion.
Has had a life-saving operation
A routine scan in February 2017 could well have saved the Connor Goldson’s life. It revealed the player had an enlarged aorta, a serious heart defect, which would require surgery. The severity was such that if he carried on playing without an operation it could have killed him.
He told the Express: “I was lucky that Brighton make you have a heart scan every one or two years. It could have carried on growing and maybe nothing would have happened.
“But if something did happen you wouldn’t be able to tell what was going on and it would have been death straight away on a football pitch, no chance of resuscitation.”
Remarkably, he made his return in July that year in a friendly.
The operation has left him with a six-inch scar down the middle of his chest.
He kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut
The 23rd of December will forever be a special day for Goldson. After the operation and subsequent recovery, he finally made his Premier League debut. And what a debut it was. Goldson put in a starring performance as Brighton defeated Watford 1-0 at the Amex Stadium.
He told the club’s official website: “At the end of the game I did get a little bit emotional inside - I might not have shown it, but it did mean a lot. I got a great reception in the changing room when I came back.”
Rangers are getting a bargain
That is the view of Brighton fans who were reacting to the news on social media that their centre-back was on the move to Rangers. At £3.5 million, fans believe the Ibrox side are getting a Premier League defender, and one who will continue being watched by the top tier sides in England.
It is felt that he still has a key part to play with the club. A comment piece in a local paper queried why the player would make the move north when he could find himself back in the starting XI with an injury to or sale of either of the club’s starting centre-halves.
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The writer also questioned the player’s choice of club.
“Albion are a stable club with healthy finances and a stable manager, playing in one of the best leagues in the world,” wrote Andy Naylor in The Argus.
“Would joining Rangers really be a progressive step for Goldson’s career?
“Rangers are unstable, their debts keep on mounting and appointing Gerrard is a gamble in their quest to close the gap on all-conquering neighbours Celtic. They are also the other big fish in an otherwise small pond.”
Rangers fans should be excited at the prospect of recruiting a player who has all the attributes to become a dominant defender in the Ladbrokes Premiership and a key cog in the Steven Gerrard era. Goldson is a modern centre-back. He is physically imposing, mobile and more than comfortable on the ball.
He isn’t a traditional centre-back in the way of someone like Christophe Berra. He prefers to stand his ground, read the game rather than diving in and getting involved in the rough, nitty gritty side of the defensive game.
When dealing with long balls he is prone to standing and using his physique to win the duel rather than out-jumping the forward.
On the ground he makes it very difficult for forwards to turn, such is his strength, while he is adept at covering the full-back with his pace, something which will be more than useful considering the forward instincts of the club’s full-backs.
A key facet of the centre-back’s game is his ability to play out from the back. He does so with a mixture of short passes into midfield or full-backs, or with sweeping cross field balls to the left flank, something Jamie Murphy will be used to having played with Goldson at Brighton. Rangers are already a dangerous counter-attacking team. That element to their game could become even more potent with Goldson’s quick and accurate switch of plays.
Despite not being an aerially dominant centre-back, Goldson is still a threat in the opposition box and a useful target to play off for set pieces. Brighton used him as a weapon at the back post to play free-kicks to so he could bring others into play with knockdowns.
He has not played a lot of football in past two seasons
Despite being a popular figure at the club and highly-rated, Goldson has not played a lot of football across the past three seasons. He has been with Brighton since 2015 but featured only 42 times.
The heart defect and aftermath saw him miss 19 matches in the run-in to earning promotion from the Championship. Yet, prior to that he had only played five times in the league that season. In the previous campaign he had to wait until matchday 24 to be handed a league start but soon made the centre-back position his own.
Rangers will be getting a player who will be eager to play football but one played only eight times last season.
He will be a good dressing room addition
Goldson is a popular figure with fans, team-mates and staff at Brighton. He leant on colleagues such as Anthony Knockaert after being told about his condition and how he and his family could deal with the traumatic operation.
Team-mates visited him in hospital, with fellow defender Lewis Dunk walking him around the ward.
As the team neared promotion to the Premier League in 2017 fans belted out his name to Spandau Ballet’s hit ‘Gold’.
The Gerrard influence
Players will be more inclined to sign for Rangers because of the presence of Steven Gerrard. Goldson is a Liverpool fan and the prospect of working with the club legend will appeal to him, as it will many players.
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