Why Chris Long believes Motherwell can propel him back to the English Premiership

Somewhere in a dusty attic in a house in Merseyside lies a scrap of paper with Steven Gerrard’s name scribbled across it.

Motherwell's Chris Long began his career with Everton
Motherwell's Chris Long began his career with Everton

The Rangers manager signed that autograph 18 years ago for a then Liverpool-daft kid from his hometown of Huyton who would go on to spend the next 14 years across the city in Everton blue.

“I’ve never met him but I had an autograph of his when I was six. It said ‘To Christopher’ with his signature. It’s probably in the loft or something. My mum could dig it out. But she is an Evertonian so she probably won’t!”

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The Christopher in question is Chris Long who this afternoon will face up to his one-time childhood hero in the colours of new club Motherwell.

It is the latest chapter in what has been an up-and-down story so far for the striker who left Everton in 2015 only to bounce around various spots in the English lower leagues.

It is not the career path he had envisioned after making his Everton debut in a Europa League tie but the setbacks have done little to dilute his chippy Scouse self-confidence.

Now 24 and with his partner and seven-month old son in tow, Long believes Motherwell will provide the platform for him to return soon to the highest echelons of the English game. The Jamie Vardy slow train to success isn’t one he is keen to alight on. “Obviously the last couple of years haven’t been great,” he admitted. “But I know for a fact that I’ll get back there [to the Premier League], and sooner rather than later.

“I don’t want to be one of those like Vardy. He’s obviously gone on to have a great career but I want to do it now. This season I’ve got the right manager and I’m at the right team. Hopefully that’s going to get me back to where I want to play.”

Teaming up with another England striker as a youth also whetted his appetite. “I played once in the same team as Harry Kane,” he revealed. “And you can say he’s definitely exceeded all expectations since then.

“I’ve played with a lot of good players at Everton and 
with England so playing the last four years in League One is frustrating. Now I need to get my head on, work hard and get back to where I should be. I know for a fact once I’m back there I’ll kick on.”

Had he taken another path he could have been playing for Rangers today rather than against them. Mark Warburton had worked with him previously at Brentford and was keen to bring him to Ibrox in 2015.

“I know Rangers were in for me. But Burnley had been relegated to the Championship and I had scored goals in that league the year before. So I chose to go there and it didn’t really work out for me over three years. So that is why I am starting out again here.”