Linfield sign Sproule – eight years after Ibrox hat-trick

Sproule is hoisted high by team-mates after the second goal of his hat-trick. Picture: Kenny Smith
Sproule is hoisted high by team-mates after the second goal of his hat-trick. Picture: Kenny Smith
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FORMER Hibs star Ivan Sproule has joined Linfield – eight years after he was originally due to sign for the Northern Irish club.

The move at that time was foiled by Sproule’s celebrated hat-trick against Rangers in August 2005, which gave Hibs a shock 3-0 victory at Ibrox and prompted manager Tony Mowbray to persuade the player to remain at Easter Road.

Linfield manager David Jeffrey has revealed his previous attempt to sign Sproule, who arrived in the Capital in 2005 after being signed from Irish intermediate club Institute for a bargain fee of £5000. The then 24-year-old had difficulty settling in Edinburgh and was on the verge of making a quick return to Ireland.

“He had a bit of homesickness when he was at Hibs,” Jeffrey recalled. “He was unsettled and wanted to come home. The club had done a deal with Hibs and I had confirmed it with their manager Tony Mowbray. Then, that Saturday, Ivan scored a hat-trick against Rangers at Ibrox. I remember very sheepishly going back to Tony, knowing rightly what the answer was going to be to the question and being told the deal was then off.”

Sproule’s Ibrox display resulted in him being linked with a £1 million move to Ukrainian club Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, but he remained at Easter Road for two years, helping Hibs to win the League Cup in 2007 before moving to Bristol City.

He joined Hibs again in 2011 before joining Ross County in 2013. Last month, the 32-year-old left County for personal reasons, and he has signed a deal with Linfield which will keep him at Windsor Park until the end of 2014-15.