Scott Arfield has revealed he will wear the No.37 shirt in tribute to friend Craig Gowans after signing a four-year deal with Rangers.
The midfielder has become Steven Gerrard’s first signing after leaving Burnley on a high following their seventh-place finish in the Premier League.
Arfield will line up in the same number worn by his former Falkirk team-mate Gowans, who tragically died aged 17 in 2005.
Gowans who was from Blackhall and a former pupil at Stewart’s Melville College, died when equipment he was carrying came into contact with electrical cables during a training session in Grangemouth.
Arfield said: “I spoke to Craig’s family, his siblings and his mum and dad. They were ecstatic that I still want to take that on.
“I feel as if when I wear it there is a sentimental factor that kind of gives you a peace of mind. You feel as if your mate is looking down and you are carrying on things not just for you, but also Craig’s legacy as well as his family.”
Arfield, 29, spent eight years in England with Huddersfield Town and Burnley and is excited about the prospect of returning to his native land.
“I left a good player, I have come back a far better player – mentally, physically,” he said. “With my time in England, with promotions and relegations, it can only enhance your career. I think I have come back a more natural leader. I went down there almost like a wee boy. I fully believe I can handle the expectation at a club like this. When you come here you expect it, and I’m ready.”
Arfield revealed interest from Rangers first materialised several months ago.
“As soon as interest came in, it was something I wanted to jump on,” he said. “There were a few options in England that could have crept up but as soon as this magnitude of club came in, and coming back up the road was something that appealed to me and my family, it was a no-brainer.
“I have been down there for a number of years and I felt I had to come back up to a club that is only going to go on to better things. Leaving the Premier League wasn’t as big a deal as it would maybe be for other players.”
Arfield’s excitement intensified when he discovered Steven Gerrard was going to be his new manager.
“If you don’t get excited by it, you shouldn’t walk through the front door,” he said. “With Gary McAllister as well, it’s exciting times and I’m so happy to be part of it. I was lucky enough to play against him (Gerrard) and it was one of the highlights of my career.”