Ryan Jack has insisted he showed Aberdeen and their supporters nothing but respect in the manner he departed the club but admits he expects a hostile reception when he returns to Pittodrie with Rangers next season.
The former Dons captain says he has “no fear” about the reaction of those fans upset by his decision to leave at the end of his contract last month and join Rangers on a three-year contract.
Jack, who was stripped of the skipper’s armband in a sour ending to his Aberdeen career, says he made a “selfish” choice to sign for the club he supported as a child but has no regrets over his conduct ahead of the move.
“I never actually mentioned that anything was happening,” said the 25-year-old midfielder. “I said from the outset that I wanted to wait until the end of the season and my future would get sorted. It was maybe other people who came out and said this and that about me saying that I was wanting to move and that I was wanting to leave Aberdeen at the end of the season.
“For me, I wanted to respect Aberdeen, respect the fans and respect my team-mates and not say anything until I knew exactly what was happening. The end of the season was the right time.
“When this came about I knew there would be a backlash and I knew there’s that hatred maybe between Aberdeen and Rangers. It doesn’t bother me. It’s part of football. It’s what comes with the job.
“When the fixtures do get released next week, one of the games I’ll be looking out for is going to Pittodrie. It’s always a great game when Rangers are there, it’s a great atmosphere. There is no fear or anything like that. It’s just going to be excitement.
“I wouldn’t imagine the reception I get will be too great but it’s part of football. Going from Aberdeen to Rangers, you know that flak’s going to come with it. Supporters aren’t going to be happy. But, for me, I just have to be selfish, look out for my career and what’s best for me and my family. I chose Rangers because I thought it was the best option for myself. I will be looking forward to going back up to Pittodrie, playing against my old team-mates and getting booed as well.”
Jack’s boyhood affection for Rangers was nurtured by his mother’s side of his family, while his father has been a regular at Pittodrie. He has scotched the tale, however, that when he first started training with Aberdeen as a youngster he turned up wearing a Rangers strip.
“That’s absolute rubbish,” he said. “I wasn’t that brave! I wouldn’t say my Dad is a massive Aberdeen fan. He’s an Aberdeen lad. He grew up in Aberdeen and I have played for Aberdeen since I was eight years old so he’s had no option but to support me and support my career. He’s no different now.
“He says he will still come to Rangers games and support me. He will still be giving me advice on what he thinks is best for me. As soon as I said I was going to come to Rangers, my family and friends were nothing but supportive.”