Matt Crooks admits a disappointing spell at Rangers remains the “biggest regret” of his career with the forward looking to make up for lost time at Middlesbrough, speaking to BBC Radio Tees.
While Steven Gerrard’s side are signing players from Sheffield United, Anderlecht, Liverpool and Bologna these days, they were shopping in a different market in 2016.
After securing their long-awaited return to the top flight after four miserable years in the lower leagues, Mark Warburton’s Gers raided Accrington Stanley for two highly rated midfielders.
But while Josh Windass would eventually make his mark at Ibrox, scoring 18 goals during an impressive 2017/18 season, the same can’t be said of Crooks.
The Leeds-born prospect lasted just one season north of the border, making a grand total of three appearances before being sold to Northampton Town.
Four years on, that forgettable stint at one of the biggest and most historic clubs in British football still feels like a substantial blot on Crooks’ copybook.
And after signing from Rotherham, firing Middlesbrough to promotion from his new-look attacking midfield role would go a long way to making up for that Ibrox nightmare.
Matt Crooks expresses Rangers regret
“It’s Middlesbrough. I think you probably have one opportunity to come to a club of this size. In my career, I did have the chance to go to Rangers and I’ve always said that’s probably my biggest regret not taking advantage of that,” Crooks explains.
“As soon as I heard Middlesbrough coming in for me, I felt like it was a redemption period coming in for me.
“I want to prove I can do it at a big club like this and perform in front of big crowds and the big fanbase they’ve got so it’s got a massive appeal for me and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Crooks is already starting to repay that £1.1 million transfer fee, combining with fellow newbie Uche Ikpeazu to score the winning goal against Bristol City on Saturday.