Leon Balogun : A New Home in Ibrox

Leon Balogun : A New Home in Ibrox

His 19 league appearances and three assists, which in no small measure helped Glasgow Rangers to win the Scottish Premier League for the first time in over a decade, has culminated in the eggheads of the Ibrox side extending the contract of Leon Balogun for one year

After an impressive performance that helped Glasgow Rangers win the Scottish League for the 55th time and for the first time in over a decade, Super Eagles of Nigeria defender, Leon Balogun, has had his contract extended at Scottish Champions having fulfilled a part of his contract that required him to play a specific number of games.
The 32-year-old centre-half signed a one year contract with the Steven Gerrard tutored side in July 2020 having parted ways with Wigan Athletic.

Several reports have indicated that Balogun would pen the new deal on his return to Scotland after the international break during which he helped the Super Eagles to victories against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
Balogun has made 19 league appearances and nine more in other competitions to take his season tally for the Gers to 28.

Balogun needed 23 starts to trigger a one-year extension, a feat he achieved in the Europa League match against Slavia Prague of Czech Republic back in March.
The Nigeria international has expressed delight to be part of the Gers’ side that won their 55th Scottish top-flight trophy, revealing his side were over the moon after ending Celtic’s Scottish Premiership title dominance.
The trophy is the first for the Super Eagles defender in his career and he revealed he dreamt of achieving the feat with the Gers, and was particularly delighted his side ended the winning streak of their arch-rivals, Celtic.

“The cool thing about this is that I’m part of a team that has tried in the past few years to stop the other side of town and polish up the Rangers logo,” Balogun told Sport 1.
“It never happened and this season, the big topic was to stop their ‘10 In A Row’ which neither team has yet succeeded in doing.

“That’s what makes the story so much bigger, especially in view of the recent past. Sure, for me it’s the first league title in my career. But I have to let that sink in first.
“For the last six months of my contract with Brighton & Hove Albion, I played at Wigan Athletic. When my boys there heard that I was going to join Rangers, they all said to me ‘unbelievable, that’s awesome, you’ll love that’.

“And I said to Chey Dunkley ‘just watch, I’ll be holding that trophy at the end of the season’. The easiest thing was to dream about it. Putting it into practice was a different matter.
“There are other guys in my team who have seen so much and had to put up with so much from the other side of town. Hence the title has a much greater meaning for them. But it was a successful first year for me.”
The rivalry between Rangers and Celtic is so fierce that none of the Gers stars speaks the name of their rivals and Balogun quickly adapted to it on his arrival.
“I got used to that right away. I don’t say the name of this other team, I always say, ‘the ones from the other side of town’,” he continued.

“The rivalry between us and the club on the other side of town is incredible. The tenth title that club was aiming for was the big theme this season. “Honestly I still have no real idea of this rivalry because no fans are allowed to be there yet.

“I get an insight through social media, or the last time before the game when we arrived at the stadium and the streets were full of fans and the police had to guide us through.
“But even then my teammates said to me ‘Leon, you haven’t seen anything yet’. I still have no idea how crazy our fans are and what it feels like to play in front of them.”
Balogun has revealed he is open to returning to Germany, although he would like to continue his stay with his Scottish Premiership club.

The defender teamed up with the Gers last summer after leaving Wigan Athletic, signing a one-year contract with an option of a one-year extension.
Balogun has spent most of his career in Germany, playing for Turkiyemspor Berlin, Hannover 96, Werder Bremen, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Darmstadt 98 and Mainz 05 before moving to England in 2018 to join Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 32-year-old has stated he would consider returning to Germany, where his family is based, after ending his stay with Rangers.

It’s just a matter of form, I don’t have to worry about that – I definitely want to stay at Rangers,” Balogun told Blid.
“Germany is my Home. I sacrificed so many moments with my family in order to pursue my career. If there was a chance to get closer to them again, I would listen to it.”
Balogun has been delivering impressive performances for Steven Gerrard’s men, having already featured in 28 appearances across all competitions.

His contributions helped the Ibrox Stadium outfit clinch their 55th Scottish Premiership title and he is delighted with his decision to team up with the club.
“When my advisor called me a year ago, he immediately said: ‘I have one thing here that is huge for you: the Rangers’,” he continued.

“At first, I thought: Scottish League, well. But then I felt Steven Gerrard’s interest. I don’t mean to say that he chased me. But he really went out of his way to help me.
“I felt that he wanted me as a player, as a guy, as Leon Balogun. He said I was a perfect match for his game idea and the identity of the club. With every word, he convinced me even more.
“The goal was very clear that we had to win the title. Draws felt like defeat to us. You could feel the team’s mentality there.”

Balogun also revealed Gerrard as a very good manager and compared him to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“He’s definitely more like Klopp! He is a young coach who you can tell immediately that he played at the highest level himself and he has a very good sense of how to deal with us,” he added.
“Whether someone needs a kick in the ass or whether he has to take someone aside and build him up. He has a lot of empathy.

“He doesn’t need that at all to get loud when something doesn’t suit him]. He hits the right words in every situation and knows how to grab us. That is the art. Every player feels: the coach needs me.
“That is one reason why it will be successful in the long run. He just understands that you have to have your players all on board. And every now and then he lets you glimpse how he was as a player.”
Balogun will be expected to continue his consistent performances when Rangers take on Hibernian in a league game on April 11.

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