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Kyle Lafferty: Johnstone Burgh move came after turning down EFL clubs

The former Northern Ireland international will play his football in the West of Scotland League next season; the striker left Kilmarnock in February due to disciplinary reasons

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Kyle Lafferty explains why he chose to join Scottish seventh tier club Johnstone Burgh over clubs in the EFL and how he'll deal with any hostile receptions he receives on away trips

Kyle Lafferty has revealed he turned down a move to the EFL in favour of joining Johnstone Burgh in the seventh tier of Scottish football.

The Northern Ireland international has joined Johnstone Burgh on a two-year deal after being released by Kilmarnock at the start of this year for disciplinary reasons.

Prior to that he was handed a 10-game SFA ban for using sectarian language last October.

Lafferty went on to join Linfield after his exit from Scotland, but failed to score in eight matches and was not offered an extension on his short-term deal.

The 35-year-old had won three league titles between 2008-11 at Rangers, plus a Scottish Cup and two League Cup titles.

DINGWALL, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 28: Kilmarnock's Kyle Lafferty at full time during a cinch Premiership match between Ross County and Kilmarnock at the Global Energy Stadium, on January 28, 2023, in Dingwall, Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Image: Lafferty left Kilmarnock in February

He was also part of the Kilmarnock side that won the Championship in 2021-22 season, and has played for 15 different clubs over his 18-year career, including Burnley, Norwich City, Hearts and Sunderland.

Johnstone Burgh also signed former Scotland midfielder Graham Dorrans at the end of last season.

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Sky Sports News spoke to Lafferty after his decision to join the West of Scotland League One side...

How do you feel about this new challenge in your career?

I'm very excited. It's an opportunity that came up about three weeks ago. I saw Graham Dorrans, who I'm really close to, sign here and spoke to him at length about it. There's a project here that I'm really excited about and I'm glad to be involved in.

Lafferty and Dorrans played together at Rangers
Image: Lafferty and Dorrans played together at Rangers

What is it about this project that matches your ambition?

I'm not too sure many people know who Johnston Burgh are, but the project is to get through the leagues, get to the professional leagues, and let everyone realise who they are. Great people own and run the club, I've met all the workers and it's a proper family club. Everyone is working together to make this club good and I'm excited to be a part of it, I'm sure it will be an exciting few years.

How big a part did Graham Dorrans play and what were those conversations like?

Former Scotland midfielder Dorrans joined Johnstone Burgh at the end of last season
Image: Former Scotland midfielder Dorrans joined Johnstone Burgh at the end of last season

Obviously we spoke about training and I know he's played a few preseason friendlies. We spoke about where we will end up playing away from home and he says it will be tough, but at the end of the day it's a challenge I'm excited about and can't wait to get started.

You two have been in some big footballing arenas together, what do you think this contrast will be like in the seventh tier of Scottish football?

Lafferty has had two spells at Rangers
Image: Lafferty has had two spells at Rangers

We are both excited. We came here to do a job and that's what we are going to do. We'll bring a lot of experience to the team and seeing the lads training already, there are some excellent players in there. They're a good team with both younger and senior pros.

How much do you look forward to the other side of it, obviously wanting to do well yourself but also lending your experience to others?

I'm always one of those players that will speak to you, get players and try to help with their game, so that doesn't change here. If I can make any of the players better, it will be an added bonus for me.

What do you think will be the biggest culture shock to get used to at this level?

I've played in places all over Europe and been to some horrendous grounds, so I don't think it will be a culture shock. I have to approach it in the right manner, it's a game of football 11 versus 11. There might not be as many fans as I'm used to, but I'm here to wins games and nothing else matters.

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Johnstone Burgh boss Jamie McKim reflects on signing Kyle Lafferty, adding to former Scotland international Graham Dorrans as he plots a league title win this season

Are you still confident you could play at a high level, is it just this project that excited you?

I was given offers from the Championship, League 1 and League 2 in England, but I've been away from my wife and kids for a massive part of their lives. I think I had to stop being selfish and be at home when the kids want me to be, doing the school run. I think I owe it then to be based in Scotland again and watch them grow.

Is the door closed on football at that level, is it all about getting Johnstone Burgh up the leagues?

I'm going to be 36 in September and I've signed here for two years, so I'm willing to see out my contract. Once those two years come, if I feel good and the club wants to keep me longer, then I'll be happy to. But if an offer comes along and the club wants to look at it, obviously it's up to them. As I've said with Dozza, it'll be good to join up with him again and get a coffee and stuff after training. I'm here for two years and I'll be happy.

Kyle Lafferty has 85 caps for Northern Ireland
Image: Kyle Lafferty has 85 caps for Northern Ireland

Scottish football at this level is famous for some interesting characters, it's a very colourful environment - will you be expecting an interesting welcome at some of the grounds you go to?

I'm sure I'll get welcomed at some places. I've been booed at every Scottish ground I've played at, but it's part of the job, half the fans love you and half the fans hate you. I've always loved that part of it that comes with football, you just have to get on and answer it on the pitch.

Are you expecting any special treatment from opposition centre backs?

I'm used to people getting in my ear or giving me the odd punch or nip. I'm big enough to look after myself and if anyone has seen me play, they'll know I'm not shy about an elbow or a tussle, so I'm excited more than anything.

How do you look back on your time at Kilmarnock after it ended quite abruptly?

Lafferty had two spells at Kilmarnock
Image: Lafferty had two spells at Kilmarnock

I loved my time at Kilmarnock, that's why I spent two periods in my career there. I had a great relationship with the fans, the manager and everyone around the club. It was just one of those things that came about and I've moved on, but I'll look out for their results every single week. Everyone knows I'm a Rangers fan, but Kilmarnock will be the team I look out for as well. I've got a massive space for them in my heart and wish them all the best for this season.

In terms of the immediate future, are you fit and raring to go into friendly games?

I've been keeping myself fit, going to the gym, running and strength work in the last few weeks. Game time maybe I'll need to catch up with some of the lads, but I'm always one of those that will stay reasonably fit over the break. I'm raring to go and can't wait.

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