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Rangers infected me with their blue fever – Leon Balogun

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Rangers infected me with their blue fever – Leon Balogun

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Leon Balogun has revealed that the entire Rangers squad was shocked to the core when they learned Steven Gerrard was quitting Ibrox for Aston Villa.

The big defender says they couldn’t believe Gerrard and his team would up sticks for Birmingham in November last year when Rangers were top of the league and seeking to defend their title.

And his disappointment was doubled at the end of the season when he was not offered a new deal.

Ironically, Balogun was snapped up by Michael Beale at Queen’s Park Rangers and now the Nigerian international has lost a manager for the second time with Beale returning to Ibrox to take over from Gio van Bronckhorst.

Balogun was with the Nigerian team with Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey for World Cup qualifiers when the news broke that Gerrard was going. Speaking on the Beautiful Game Podcast, he said: “Joe, Calvin and I were with the national team when it happened. We could not believe he had left.

“We were like, ‘he won’t leave we are doing too well.’ We were four or so points clear at the time. It was weird and I think everyone was heartbroken. Steven Gerrard, Mick Beale, Gary McAllister and the rest of the staff, we built a relationship there.

“I only worked under them for 18 months, but some players were there for three years. So there was a close bond. When they first left, I was like ‘they have left us!’ In the end we understood that he wanted to go to Premier League, and I think he turned down a few offers before that.”

Balogun says he remains disappointed that he was not given the chance to stay at Rangers – and they could have done with him this season given the defensive injuries – but he didn’t get an offer to stay.

He added: “I was very sad to leave. The club infected me with their blue fever. I did not leave Rangers. It is more like I was released. That is the fairest way to put it. I did not expect it. At one point down the line I got prepared but I still did not expect that.

“I never received an offer. We were talking but I never received anything. I wanted to stay. I love the club. I felt like I had found a home there.”

This article was updated 1 month ago

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