Former Celtic and Rangers striker is matchmaker in Johnny Russell’s switch from Derby to Sporting KC

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Former Celtic and Rangers striker Mo Johnston has been credited as the matchmaker by Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes over Scotland cap Johnny Russell’s deadline day move to the MLS.

Ex-Dundee United forward Russell signed a three-year deal with Sporting on Wednesday following four-and-a-half years at English Championship outfit Derby County.

And Vermes has revealed how Johnston, who starred for club between 1996 and 2001 when they were then known as Kansas City Wizards, played a central role in facilitating the 27-year-old’s switch across the Atlantic.

Vermes said: “We had known the player before – but Mo came to me and said that there’s a real possibility not only of getting him out, but more importantly he was really interested in coming.

“Mo was instrumental in the initial contact and then also the process, just helped a lot the fact that he’s Scottish and that he played for the club.

“I think he’s helped both the player, the agent and helped the communication especially early on, which was great.

“All along he’s been a part of the process from the beginning until the end, and just making sure that everybody was getting the information they needed and at the same time.

“I think whenever a foreign player is making a move to a team, if there’s someone that they feel comfortable with, it just makes that transition that much easier and Mo’s been great in that part.

“Mo’s the one who called and basically said, ‘hey, this could be reality if you want it to be’.”

Russell, who made 203 appearances for the Rams after completing a £750,000 transfer from United in 2013, turned down the offer to extend his deal beyond the summer at Pride Park and Vermes is delighted to hand landed the four-times capped internationalist.

Vermes added: “I think his resume up to this point speaks for itself. I believe it’s a really good signing for the club in a lot of different respects.

“I think that he is a very accomplished player, I think that he has really good attacking qualities that can obviously provide us with something that our team needs.

“Not to put all the pressure on him by any means but I just think that he’s one of those players that possesses qualities that can really lend themselves to success in the final third. I also think that he has a lot of experience in playing under a lot of pressure.”

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