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Football: MY HEART WILL ALWAYS BE AT GERS; Big Amo signs off.

Byline: MARK GUIDI EXCLUSIVE

LORENZO AMORUSO last night revealed he felt heartbroken at leaving Rangers after finally completing his pounds 1.35million switch to Blackburn Rovers.

The Italian defender signed a three-year deal yesterday morning and immediately got down to training with Rovers gaffer Graeme Souness and his new team- mates.

But while pleased his future was sorted out, Amo told MailSport he will miss Ibrox - and regrets never having a chance to negotiate a wage cut that could have enabled him to stay.

He said: "I am looking forward to a new challenge, a new adventure in my life. But I'm sad my time with Rangers is over. I had six fantastic years and didn't want to leave. But everyone knows about the club's financial problems and I had to settle my future.

"I will miss the everyday contact with Glasgow and my friends. But the memories will never leave - they will always be in my heart."

The three-month saga of the former Ibrox captain's move to the Premiership almost came to an end last week over the Italian's personal demands.

But the final details were ironed out on a contract that will net Lorenzo more than pounds 3m during his Ewood career.

After training with Rovers he returned to Glasgow last night to collect his belongings.

He will move in to temporary digs with fellow Italian and new Rovers team-mate Marco Grabbi.

Amoruso - signed by Walter Smith from Fiorentina for pounds 4m in summer 1997 - made it no secret he wanted to stay for the final year of his contract.

He was disappointed club chiefs made no effort to enter talks to find out what it would take to keep him at Ibrox for the rest of his career.

He was prepared to take a wage cut from his pounds 20,000 per week earnings.

Amo said: "The club could not give me an extension - they couldn't afford me.

"But there were never any talks between us. Not once did we discuss what kind of cut in wages I was prepared to take.

"Leaving now means I've got a good deal from Rovers and Rangers get a fee for me."

Amo won three titles, four Scottish and three League Cups at Ibrox and was the club's first Catholic captain.

But his proudest moment was lifting the PFA Player of the Year title. He said: "To win the vote from your fellow pros is as high as you can get.

"But I could go on and on about the special times. I'm proud of being the club's first Catholic captain and the supporters always accepted me and made me feel special.

"I thank the fans from the bottom of my heart and hope they enjoy continued success.

"Winning five trophies in the last 18 months has been fantastic and Alex McLeish deserves enormous credit."

Amo is looking forward to playing in the Premiership.

He said: "I've only had one training session but can tell already the place is well organised and has good discipline.

"There is much to look forward to, including the UEFA Cup. And I'd love some day to meet Rangers in Europe.

"I will return to Glasgow often and am looking forward to seeing an Old Firm game as a spectator although I'd much rather be playing."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 13, 2003
Words:551
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