Zak Rudden admits it was time to move on from Rangers – but still hopes to be back at Ibrox one day.
The 19-year-old has joined Partick Thistle after almost a decade on the Light Blues’ books.
He was a regular scorer for Falkirk on loan last season but after spending the first half of this season with Plymouth Argyle, the young striker did not fancy being farmed out for another short-term spell.
And with his route to Steven Gerrard’s first team blocked by Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe, Rudden knew the time had come to make a clean break.
The Scotland Under-19 frontman has agreed to make a permanent switch to Firhill after signing a two-and-a-half year deal to join Ian McCall’s team.
But Gers have inserted a clause which would allow them to snap him back up in 18 months’ time.
And Rudden – who is set to make his Thistle debut against Celtic in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash – is determined to fight his way back to Govan.
He said: “There is a clause in the deal which means after 18 months Rangers could buy me back.
“I’m delighted they have got that in there if they see me doing well but my main focus right now is Partick Thistle.
“Is it hard to leave Rangers? Of course it is. After almost 10 years at the club it’s a weird one to be leaving.
“I realised that my dream of making it to the first team might never be realised when I kept getting put out on loan.
“They were ready to put me out on another loan this month but I thought it might be better just to go out and feel comfortable somewhere. I thought it was time to go.
“But maybe three or four years down the line I would hope to be back at Rangers.
“I do want to play for them because they are a massive club. Steven Gerrard did call me after the deal went through to say all the best, which was very nice of him.
“But right now Partick Thistle is my priority.”
McCall also hinted Rangers could cash in on the youngster thanks to a potential selling-on fee.
But for that to happen, Rudden will have to prove himself at Firhill.
“I’ve tried to get Zak before and I’m delighted we were able to do a deal which means he’s a Thistle player,” said the Jags boss. “Hopefully he’ll hit the ground running.
“It’s a pretty normal deal. If Zak does well and various things happen then every club is a winner.
“If he does fantastically well and somebody buys him then we’re a winner, Rangers are winners and Zak is a winner.
“The whole key to any deal is the player doing well and I hope he does.”
And Rudden hopes to take that first step when he lines up against Neil Lennon’s cup holders this weekend, saying: “It’s mad. I thrive off these situations where you’re chucked in at the deep end, so hopefully I can go in there and score.”