Football: Hendry so happy to be home at last

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By Nick Harris

COLIN HENDRY yesterday fulfilled his long-held ambition of joining Rangers as he completed a pounds 4m move from Blackburn Rovers to Ibrox.

The 32-year-old Scotland captain has been at the centre of protracted negotiations for his services since learning of Rangers' interest some weeks ago. Rovers were loath to lose their inspirational defender and initially demanded pounds 5.15m for him, while Rangers were only prepared to pay pounds 2.5m, given the player's age.

But, after a weekend of lengthy negotiations between the Ibrox chairman, David Murray, and his Blackburn counterpart, Jack Walker, a compromise solution was found involving payments dependent on appearances at club and international level.

Hendry declared himself "ecstatic" after signing a four-year contract to become the eighth summer signing of Dick Advocaat's short reign as the Rangers manager.

"It has always been my desire to come here for the most part of my career and my name has been mentioned in connection with them for the last few close seasons now," Hendry said. "It was a big factor for me as a professional footballer at the highest level of the game to be playing for arguably the biggest club in Britain. It was also very important for my family to come back to Scotland, as I have mentioned before."

Hendry is ineligible for Rangers' second Uefa Cup qualifying round tie against the Greek side PAOK Salonika next week, but he could make his debut a week on Saturday in the Premier League match against Motherwell.

Elsewhere in Scotland yesterday, the former Rangers striker, Ally McCoist, 36, ended speculation over where he would continue a career he has recently been tempted to retire from by signing for Kilmarnock.

Pierre van Hooijdonk, Nottingham Forest's Dutch striker, last night insisted that he will not be returning to the club, even though he could face the prospect of being suspended from all football.

Van Hooijdonk still has four years of his contract to run but yesterday told his manager, Dave Bassett, that the Forest board lacks sufficient ambition to keep him interested in playing at the City Ground.

Forest could stop Van Hooijdonk from playing elsewhere, but he is hoping they will instead agree to the transfer request which was rejected last week - a decision which led him to remain in his native country. Forest may yet cancel Kevin Campbell's uncompleted move to Trabzonspor in Turkey if they decide to let Van Hooijdonk to leave.

Bradford City have halted the proposed pounds 900,000 transfer of Samassi Abou from West Ham after it was discovered the player was suffering from malaria, thought to have been contracted during a trip to the Ivory Coast during the close season. Bolton have completed the free transfer of the 19-year- old Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnson from PSV Eindhoven.

Super league intrigue, page 6