United States midfielder James Sands has revealed the roles Ronny Deila and Claudio Reyna played in his move to Glasgow Rangers.
The 21-year-old was New York City FC's first-ever homegrown player but finally departed the club earlier this month after winning MLS Cup in 2021. Sands joined Rangers on an 18-month loan with a purchase option.
Already the midfielder, who can also play center-back, has made a promising start over his first two appearances for the Glasgow giants. His transition to life in the city might well have been helped by Deila and Reyna - the former won titles as Celtic manager, while the latter used to man the midfield for Rangers during his playing days.
“He was really good about it,” Sands said of Deila. “Having won a trophy with him in New York, that kind of made things a little bit easier. He was always supportive from the beginning.
“He talked to me about what his experience was like at Celtic. He told me about the league and shared some tips.
“I spoke to Claudio Reyna as well because I know him from my time in New York. Those two guys were big influences on the move. I’m happy I talked to them, for sure.”
Though being thrown straight into the starting line-up may seem daunting, Sands is thankful for the trust placed in him by manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and is now looking to make his mark on the Rangers midfield.
“It’s great for a young player to be able to experience that,” said Sands, capped seven times for the USMNT. “I knew the boss had big expectations for me and he showed that a little bit in starting me away at Aberdeen and at home the other night.
“It was obviously a big challenge and each game I’ll get better and I’ll learn a little bit more. I’m just looking forward to keeping improving.
“The holding midfielder role is definitely where I’m most comfortable. At my previous club, I bounced around a little bit and I’ve played center-back for the national team as well.
“But I’m definitely more comfortable at holding mid. That’s a big reason why I came here. They saw me in that position so I think that’s definitely my No 1.”