LB- Luigi Bruno (Interviewer)
MN- Marco Negri
LB- Marco, you left Rangers under very strange circumstances, why was that?
MN- Strange? There was nothing strange in anything that happened there, they simply did not want me there any longer.
LB- Why was that?
MN- The honest answer is that I didn't know then and I still don't know even today. Nobody ever explained why I had fallen out of favour.
LB- Your goal record at Rangers was fantastic and when fit and available you were scoring for fun. I, and many others still do not understand why you left under a cloud.
MN- Let's just say you are getting very close to why I think that I was frozen out. Scotland is a very claustrophobic place where everything is examined and analyzed endlessly. Scottish society is in many ways a backward place.
LB- What do you mean by that?
MN- The culture, the underlying culture of Rangers was not good. The first team players had a habit of drinking vast amounts of alcohol during the week. As you know here in Italy we have a different culture as professional footballers. We know that it is our duty to keep ourselves fit and healthy. Some of the players there like Paul Gascoigne and Andy Goram would turn up smelling of drink BEFORE training. I could not understand why such behaviour was tolerated by Walter Smith who was manager then".
LB- Marco we are well aware of Paul Gascoigne's problems and it is sad to see his decline, we saw it earlier at Lazio. Are you saying that the players were out of control?
MN- Absolutely, I tried to point this out to Walter Smith several times but he became very defensive and said that I needed to understand Scottish footballing culture. He would hear no criticism of Goram and especially Gascoigne who could literally do anything he wanted to and still get away with it! It wasn't just their drinking however, they had some really extreme political and religious views.
LB- Could you elaborate on this please?
MN- Of course. They hated Catholics. All of them. I never understood why they were so filled with hatred. Several of us who were Catholic players and all foreigners were told upon arrival, never to bless ourselves at Ibrox as it could cause problems for us. I began to understand that Rangers was an extreme club very similar to Lazio here in Italy. You know, a right wing club with right wing supporters. I personally am not a practicing Catholic but my wife Anna Maria is, and it used to cause me pain when I heard what they said about my fellow Catholics. Lorenzo Amoruso and Jorg Albertz, just kept quiet and kept their heads down.
LB- What finally brought things to a head?
MN- I was rapidly disillusioned by Rangers and especially their supporters. As part of my professional duties I was strongly encouraged to attend social functions which meant going to several Rangers supporters clubs. The last one I attended really brought home to me the fact that I had nothing in common with these people. The anti-Catholic feeling was venomous and the songs they sang that evening filled me with disgust. It was at that point I decided not to give my all for a club that condoned such behaviour. I went sick. Walter Smith knew the real reason for my 'illness' and he just ignored it. But I wasn't lying, I was sick, sick of Rangers and sick of what they stood for and that is the truth.