Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Rangers

New boy Lee Hodson hoping Ibrox roar will equal raucous atmosphere created by Northern Ireland fans at Euros

By Andy Newport

Rangers defender Lee Hodson was blown away by the atmosphere at Euro 2016 - now he cannot wait to see how the Ibrox roar matches up.

Hodson was part of the Northern Ireland squad which qualified for a first major tournament in three decades when they reached this summer's finals.

Although he did not feature on the pitch for Michael O'Neill's team, the new Gers signing lapped up the antics of the Green and White Army in France as they celebrated their side reaching the last 16.

Videos showing the Northern Irish support belting out their now famous 'Will Grigg's on fire' chant have gone viral but now the tournament is over, Hodson is looking forward to sampling the noise generated by the Light Blues faithful on a big matchday.

Hodson, who pulled on a blue jersey for the first time on Tuesday as Rangers claimed a 2-0 Betfred Cup home win over Annan, said: "During the Euros, the atmosphere from the Northern Ireland fans was great - and going by what the lads have said so far, it will be exactly the same at Ibrox.

"It was a great experience to make my debut at home. There was 32,000 there and it was incredible. I can't imagine what it will be like come the start of the season and it's something I'm looking forward to. It will help push us on.

"It was a fantastic crowd and I can't wait for the first league game as the lads keep telling me that when it's a sell-out the atmosphere is unbelievable."

The former MK Dons defender, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Kilmarnock, was frustrated he did not get a chance to feature for his country as they escaped a tough group that involved Germany, Poland and Ukraine before exiting at the hands of Wales.

But he feels he is a better player for the experience, even if he did not make it off the bench.

"Being at the Euros was fantastic," he said. "It was disappointing not to get any minutes but just to be there and experience the whole tournament was a massive learning curve for me.

"Watching the World champions Germany up close was great and I can cherish the fact I've been to a major tournament.

"Has it made me a better player? Definitely. The standard of training with high quality players helped, as did watching guys in my position who have more experience. The advice from older players can only help."

Hodson described his move to Ibrox as a "dream come true" but now he faces a battle to ensure he does not spend more time among the substitutes.

The full-back has been signed by Mark Warburton to provide cover for skipper Lee Wallace and James Tavernier, who netted 15 times last year.

"Lee and Tav did well last year and proved they are great players, so I'll be patient and bide my time," said the 24-year-old. "If I work hard, hopefully when I get a chance I take it."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph