Norwich City sign Steven Whittaker from Rangers after rejecting newco deal

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor 

 

 

Whittaker started his career with Hibernian before moving to Ibrox in January 2007 for £2 million


 

Norwich City have signed Scotland international defender Steven Whittaker after he rejected a contract transfer at Rangers.

The 28-year-old objected to his transfer from the old Rangers to the newco and had claimed to be a free agent with the future of the Scottish club uncertain after being ejected from the Scottish Premier League for next season.

Canaries manager Chris Hughton said in a statement for the club's website: "Sometimes it is time to move on to a different club, and go there with a lot of enthusiasm. In Steven, we have a player who is very versatile and can play across the defence and midfield also his international experience is key. The Premier League stage will not faze him as he used to playing for a big club in the SPL at a high level infront of nearly 60,000 fans each week."  

Whittaker said: "I'm looking forward to the challenge of the Premier League after spending all my time in Scotland. I'm really excited. When I spoke to Chris Hughton, I was impressed by his plans to take Norwich forward as a club and everyone who I have spoken to has nothing but praise for the club and the city of Norwich. I cannot wait to get started, be a part of the team and meet the squad and staff ahead of pre-season."

He will become Hughton's first recruit at Carrow Road and will sign a four-year contract, subject to international clearance being received from the Scottish Football Association.

Whittaker was one of two players, along with Steven Naismith, who have issued statements through their lawyers objecting their contracts being transferred to the newco. The Charles Green-led consortium that bought Rangers's assets disputes the claim that players are free agents, and says it will take legal action to block any move despite PFA Scotland backing the players.

Whittaker won three Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups with Rangers, as well as another League Cup with Hibernian in 2007 during his eleven years in Scotland. He started his career in the youth setup at Hibernian before moving into the first team in 2002 where he spent five seasons before being snapped up by Rangers. He signed a new five-year contract with Rangers in July.

He scored on his debut for the Gers in a 7-2 SPL thrashing of Falkirk in August 2007 while the 6ft 1 inch utility player amassed 28 goals in over 200 games including eleven during the 2009-10 campaign. He also featured as a starter for Rangers in their 2-0 UEFA Cup final defeat to Zenit St Petersburg at the City of Manchester Stadium in 2008- he scored a goal in the run-in to the final in a quarter-final second leg victory over Sporting Lisbon at Ibrox which he described as the best goal of his career.

Boyhood Hearts fan Whittaker made his debut for the senior Scotland national side in August 2009 in a 4-0 defeat to Norway in Oslo at left-back playing the full ninety minutes and has gone on to make fifteen appearances altogether so far. In 2011-12, he netted just twice in 25 SPL appearances for Ally McCoist's men.

Whittaker became the first of the nine players who have rejected a switch of their contracts to the newco Rangers to be officially announced as a signing by another club. He was quickly followed out of the Ibrox exit by striker Kyle Lafferty with Swiss club FC Sion claiming that they have signed the Northern Ireland striker. Midfielder Jamie Ness is believed to have agreed to sign for Stoke City, who have reportedly joined Everton in expressing an interest in Rangers' Scottish forward Steven Naismith.

 

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