Borna Barisic didn’t consider interest from Roma before the signed a new contract with Rangers.
The Croatian defender admits he wants to repay Steven Gerrard for having faith in him.
Barisic went through some dark days when he struggled to get a place in the team last season, and there were times he believed he would have to quit the club.
Those weren’t thoughts that Gerrard ever encouraged, and the 27-year-old said: “Repaying the manager is one of the things that made me sign a new contract.
“I will talk about that sometime. The manager affected me a lot.
“He’s probably one of the reasons why I have stayed. Even in my tough times, he stayed behind me. He believed in me with the staff.
“Clubs like Roma having an interest in you is a very big thing for me. They’re such a big club. But my full focus is on Rangers. At no point did I want to go.
“I feel I’ve helped Rangers, and our aim is to try to win the league. That’s a big motivation for me.”
Barisic’s new deal ties him to Rangers until 2024, although he knows there’s no guarantee of him spending another four years in Scotland.
He said: “Speculation will probably quieten because I signed the new contract. But then there is the transfer window in the summer, so you don’t know what will happen.”
Barisic has already told Ianis Hagi – son of Romanian superstar, Gheorghe – that he is available to give an advice that might help him to settle in at Rangers.
There are certain things he believes make coming to Scottish football a challenge.
He said: “It’s about mentality. When you are young, you still don’t have that character.
“Every game here needs to be won, and Scottish football is not beautiful football. It’s more aggressive and he will have to get used to that.”
People in his homeland recognise Barisic is a changed man because of his time in this country.
He added: “Everyone knows that, and recognises that. It’s not hard to see.
“It’s everything about me – character, mentality, physicality.”
Playing well for his club will also help the left-back secure a spot in the Croatia national squad for Euro 2020.
They will be based at a training camp in St Andrews, and could come up against Scotland at Hampden if Steve Clarke’s men win their play-off ties.
“I played very well through qualification, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Barisic continued.
“You must play well for your club to be in good shape for the Euros.
“I need to play well during the second half of the season to make sure I get there.
“I want Scotland to qualify. I have a lot of friends here. It’s my second home.
“Then on the other side, a home crowd isn’t good for us. But I’d like Scotland to be there.
Niko Katic — Barisic’s team-mate and fellow Croat — recently described his friend as being “funny” and “angry”.
It’s not a description he recognises.
He said: “I forgot to ask him. I’m never angry. I don’t agree. I don’t know what he meant. He’s almost always angry.
“The last time I was angry was probably the defeat by Hearts because I wanted to assist. It’s something I think about all the time.”
Croatian humour, he says, is different to anything you’ll find in Scotland.
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