Kyle Lafferty last night declared himself ‘sick’ of the sectarian hatred in Scottish football that he has again become the victim of.
The latest in a string of attacks against Lafferty saw the Rangers striker’s car targeted at a filling station near his home in Glasgow.
The Northern Ireland international was spotted by a gang of bigoted thugs as he filled his £135,000 Bentley Continental with petrol.
A window was shattered and last night the 24-year-old, who is expecting his first child with former Miss Scotland Nicola Mimnagh in just a matter of weeks, told a close friend that he won’t let thugs spoil his excitement.
“I'm doing okay, but I'm just sick of all this nonsense — there's no need for it,” said Lafferty.
“All I want to do is concentrate on my football with Rangers and my relationship with Nicola, and I can't wait for the birth of our baby in three weeks’ time.
“These are exciting times for me — and I don't need them ruined by incidents like this.”
It is understood that a brick was thrown at Lafferty’s car, smashing at least one window, although he escaped unhurt before alerting police.
Two years ago another of Lafferty’s cars was vandalised outside his home just hours after a fiery Old Firm game, as a former girlfriend was alone inside.
On that occasion the Fermanagh man’s car was scratched and also had a liquid poured over it.
Police have classed the latest incident as a sectarian attack and are trying to find the culprits, while Rangers condemned those responsible.
The attack on Lafferty comes just 10 days after another Old Firm striker with a pregnant girlfriend was targeted by louts.
Celtic and Republic of Ireland star Anthony Stokes had a front window in his home smashed in what was a second attack in just over 12 months.
Neighbours claimed that those involved were drunk as they carried out the vandalism.
Dubliner Stokes believes that there are a combination of reasons why he and Lafferty have been the targets of individuals he claims are bigoted opposition fans.
The 23-year-old admits that because he is an Irish Catholic who plays for Celtic and Northern Ireland-born Protestant Lafferty is a Rangers player they are more likely to be targeted by sectarian thugs than some of their team-mates.
“If you are going to play for the Old Firm you have got to expect that,” said Stokes.
“Being Irish as well probably has a bit to do with it. It doesn’t help either.
“It’s just the way it is up here. Any club you go to you are going to get a bit of hassle, but all the eyes are on you if you are playing for the Old Firm and living around Glasgow or Edinburgh.”
Lafferty had the security at his home stepped up by Rangers after the previous attack and since the incident at Stokes’ home he has moved from the Edinburgh area to a house closer to Glasgow.
Earlier this year Celtic manager Neil Lennon — a former Northern Ireland international, born in Lurgan — was targeted when a package containing what police called ‘a viable device’ sent to him.
He and two Northern Ireland internationals who play for Celtic, Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, also had bullets sent to them in the post.
Recent research by the Scottish government showed that the number of religious hate crimes in Scotland has risen by 10 per cent in the last year.
The figures showed that a remarkable 79 per cent of such incidents took place in the Strathclyde Police area — which covers both Celtic’s Parkhead ground and Ibrox, the home of Rangers.