HE ENDED up in China but Ryan McGowan has revealed he feared being ‘banished to Siberia’ for turning down a move to Rangers when with Hearts.
The Australia defender was wanted by Rangers in 2012, just after scoring for Hearts in their Scottish Cup final hammering of city rivals Hibs, but rejected the big-money move because he feared it could harm his international ambitions.
His decision disappointed both an understanding Ally McCoist, the then Ibrox manager, and the Hearts hierarchy, who under the ownership of Vladimir Romanov were desperate for money as they headed down the road to administration.
And McGowan has confessed he and Jambos boss John McGlynn were concerned there would be lasting consequences for turning down the switch.
The 27-year-old, who moved on to Shandong Luneng Taishan in China just months later, explained: “I got a call to say the club, in not a polite way, would like you to move on. They needed the money.
“But I just had to put my selfish hat on and say ‘I want to stay’.
“The next day at training, John McGlynn, the manager, pulled me in and he said he might get a phone call that afternoon to tell him I wasn’t playing between then and Christmas.
“At that stage there had been a lot of players who, if they had rejected new contracts or hadn’t moved, were sort of banished to Siberia and wouldn’t play.
“I had a nervous 48 hours of wondering what would happen. But thankfully I did get to play and then got a move in the January and got them some money at the same time.”
And McGowan, who returned to Scotland to play for Dundee United but is now back in China with Henan Jianye, has told how he also risked the wrath of mum Theresa for turning down Rangers’ extremely lucrative offer.
McGowan told BBC Radio Scotland: “[The money on offer at Rangers] was a huge 10 or 11 times what I was on at Hearts.
“It was a massive opportunity. I had my mum with me and she’s not really a football person, but she said ‘I would sign, 100 per cent’.
“But you have to think five or six years down the line and I was thinking of my international career.”