Steven Caulker continued his Turkish adventure with a move to Gaziantep this summer but reflecting on past transfer decisions, has told The Scotsman he regrets turning Celtic down.
The defender has confirmed the Hoops sought to sign him from Queens Park Rangers in 2017 under Brendan Rodgers. However, Caulker decided to stay at the Championship side at the time as he felt best placed in London to overcome drinking and gambling addictions.
But his decision to stay at QPR did not work out, as the west London outfit released him in December 2017. He had only featured four times across all competitions over the opening months of the season.
Caulker then reappeared at Dundee the following February and made 17 appearances, but failed to stay beyond the campaign. It was suggested at the time that the defender’s move to Dens Park was only because of an unwritten agreement with Rodgers to then join Celtic.
However, Caulker resolutely disputes any deal with Rodgers to prove his fitness at Dundee before sealing a transfer to Celtic. Yet still regrets rejecting their interest the year earlier.
“Never, no,” Caulker affirmed. “The summer before it, 2017, I had an opportunity to go to Celtic, which I turned down because I felt London and QPR were better for my recovery.
“A few months after that I was then out of the squad at QPR, and we mutually terminated my contract. At that point, of course I thought I should have gone to Celtic.”
Would Celtic have benefitted from signing Caulker in 2017 or 2018?
Rodgers knew what Caulker could offer Celtic having worked with him at Swansea City during the January 2011/12 season. They came close to reuniting at Parkhead in 2017, but the defender felt staying at QPR was the better choice.
“It came close,” he told Sky Sports after joining Dundee. “I decided in the end to stay in London. I was early on in my recovery, and I felt my support network was best in London.”
Caulker impressed at Dundee, but his career never returned to the heights of scoring on his England debut in 2012. After leaving Dens Park, the 29-year-old joined Alanyaspor before a stint at Fenerbahce. Now, he plays for Gaziantep after a summer switch to the Anatolia Region outfit. While building a new international career as a Sierra Leone defender.