SPL

Scott Arfield vows to return to Rangers ‘in some capacity’ after Ibrox farewell

By Sports Desk May 25, 2023

Scott Arfield vowed to return to Rangers “in some capacity” after saying his goodbyes to the club and supporters at Ibrox on Wednesday night.

The Govan club asked fans to stay behind after the final home game of the season – a 2-2 cinch Premiership draw with Hearts – to pay tribute to the 34-year-old midfielder as well as Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent and long-term injured defender Filip Helander, all of whom will leave in the summer.

Arfield, who became a fans favourite following his move from Burnley in 2018, told RangersTV: “It is an amazing five years I have had here.

“I wanted to win the title when I first came and I managed to play a major part in winning the 55th title and that is something that nobody will ever take away from you.

“Success can be measured in many different ways, it can be measured in metal and money or it can be measured in friendships and legacies.

“I think I am welcome back here. As much as the supporters appreciate me, I appreciate them.

“It has been an amazing connection and it won’t stop here. I will be back at this club in some capacity one day.”

In typical fashion, veteran goalkeeper McGregor, ending his second spell at the club, was “disappointed” at losing a last-gasp equaliser to Jambos substitute Garang Kuol in his final competitive home match.

Hearts skipper Lawrence Shankland opened the scoring after less than a minute and it was at the very end of the first half in which Rangers edged their way back into the game, Todd Cantwell levelling with a tidy finish.

Fashion Sakala then put Rangers ahead in the 47th minute but in the final seconds of three added minutes Kuol fired in the equaliser after some sloppy defending.

McGregor told RangersTV that he is looking forward to his testimonial game against Champions League-bound Newcastle at Ibrox in the summer.

The 41-year-old said: “It will be good. It is good that they have qualified for the Champions League.

“I am sure they will bring a good team. Hopefully the fans will come and hopefully we will have a few new signings as well. It should be a good game.”

McGregor, who came through the youth system at Ibrox, admits he will miss being a Rangers player.

He said: “I will miss the fans, I will miss the atmosphere but I will definitely be back supporting.

“The best fans in the world, they stuck through the club during the bad times and the good. I have so much respect for them. I am one myself. They are brilliant.

“When I walked through the door when I was 11 or 12 I never thought about playing more than 500 games, winning trophies, being in the Hall of Fame.

“It is definitely something special.

“It has got to end at some point and if you realise that you can handle it better.”

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    Nicholl, who also managed Southampton before taking charge of Walsall, had been living with dementia, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which he attributed to brain damage caused by repeatedly heading balls over his lengthy career.

    The former central defender’s death was confirmed in a family statement on his daughter Cathy’s Facebook account.

    It said: “It is with a heavy heart that we write this. Chris Nicholl (our dad) sadly passed away peacefully on Saturday evening in hospital.

    “He fought a very long battle with CTE, caused by his dedication to football. Words can’t describe how much we’ll miss him.”

    Wilmslow-born Nicholl, who was capped 51 times by Northern Ireland and represented them at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, began his career at Burnley, but made more than 200 appearances for both Villa and the Saints.

    A dependable defender, he famously scored with a 40-yard piledriver as Villa lifted the 1977 League Cup with a 3-2 second replay victory over Everton which went to extra time at Old Trafford.

    In a series of posts on the club’s official X – formerly Twitter – account, Villa said: “Aston Villa is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former player Chris Nicholl, who has died at the age of 77.

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    “A two-time promotion and League Cup winner, Chris Nicholl’s achievements in claret and blue will never be forgotten.

    “He was a dominant figure at the heart of the Aston Villa defence for over five seasons, making 252 appearances and scoring 20 goals.

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    After hanging up his boots, Nicholl moved into management at the Dell when he was appointed as Lawrie McMenemy’s replacement during the summer of 1985, and it was he who promoted the emerging talents of Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Rod Wallace to the Southampton first team.

    Shearer said on X: “RIP Chris Nicholl. You believed in me and gave me my chance. Thank you.”

    Le Tissier added: “The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to the family of my first manager Chris Nicholl, who has sadly passed away.

    “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Chris for having the faith in me as a 17 year old boy to give me my opportunity to prove I was good enough to be a professional footballer. Gone, but never forgotten #RIPChris.”

    Nicholl parted company with the Saints in May 1991 and spent three years out of the game before taking the hotseat at Walsall.

    The Saddlers said on X: “We are devastated to learn that former manager Chris Nicholl has passed away.

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    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

    Nicholl was reunited with McMenemy during his spell in charge of Northern Ireland, serving as his assistant manager.

    A statement on the Irish FA’s X account said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Nicholl. He played 51 times for us, including the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

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    In 2017, Nicholl told Shearer as part of a BBC documentary of his fears over the damage he had suffered during his playing career.

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    Already without 11 first-team players, they lost Ryan Gravenberch to an ankle problem after half-an-hour and finished the match with four academy players on the pitch but the youngsters held out long enough for captain Virgil van Dijk to head the 118th-minute winner.

    “In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional,” said Klopp, who is leaving the club at the end of the season and looked emotional on the pitch at the final whistle.

    “Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky, I wish I could feel pride more often but tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

    “I was proud of everyone involved in everything here: I was proud of our people (fans) for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at.

    “I was proud of our academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming.

    “It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley.

    “Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because ‘this’ happened before, ‘this’ happened before: this tonight, if you find the same story with academy players coming on against a top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.

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    Victory extended Liverpool’s own record to 10 League Cups and was the seventh major trophy he has won since arriving at the club in 2015.

    His side are top of the Premier League and are one of the favourites for both the FA Cup and Europa League but Klopp has no interest in the sentimentality of his final few months.

    “I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one,” he added.

    “Nothing we’ve done in the last eight or nine years is replaceable, we couldn’t have done the same at another club. It was exactly made for this combination. It is fantastic.

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    “From the first day coming into the club (Van Dijk) was absolutely outstanding. Thank God he is in form, top shape. I think he learned an important lesson for himself: you always can win the game,” he said.

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    Lautaro Martinez (two), Davide Frattesi and Stefan De Vrij scored as Simone Inzaghi’s in-form team extended their winning run to 10 games in all competitions.

    The result saw the Nerazzurri re-establish their nine-point cushion over second-placed Juventus, who earlier edged Frosinone 3-2, with a game in hand. In contrast, Lecce were left just four points above the drop zone having collected only five wins from 26 games.

    Martinez was first to threaten for the visitors with an off-target header, before an Pontus Almqvist fired over for the Salentini at the other end after a free-kick had not been cleared.

    Inter broke the deadlock in the 15th minute. Kristjan Asllani found Martinez with a neat pass and the Argentinian brought the ball under control before holding off Ahmed Touba and beating goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone with a low right-foot finish.

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan dragged a left-foot shot wide as Inter sought to increase their advantage, before Antonio Gallo lashed wastefully wide for the hosts just past the half-hour mark.

    Alexis Blin headed over three minutes after the restart as Roberto D’Aversa’s team sought an equaliser. However, their hopes of a comeback were ended by two goals in the space of three minutes.

    Firstly, Martinez found Alexis Sanchez and the Chile international squared for Frattesi to convert from close range.

    Inzaghi brought on Marco Barella for Asllani immediately after the goal and it was 3-0 soon after, Frattesi turning provider with a square pass for Martinez, who tucked away his 22nd goal of the Serie A season.

    Roberto Piccoli fired over from distance for the hosts but substitute Lameck Banda had their best chance in the 66th minute, firing a left-foot shot just wide of the far post.

    Inter went up the other end and made it 4-0 when De Vrij headed in Federico Dimarco’s corner unchallenged in the 67th minute.

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