Northern Irish internationalist Andy Little is recovering from ANOTHER nasty injury, as the striker looks to regain fitness but more so, his enjoyment of the game. This, is Andy Little’s story. Part Two.
After Little left Rangers, he signed for English Football League club Preston North End.
“It was unique for me – I hadn’t had to look for a club before. I had been with Rangers for 8 years and settled where I was. If I’m honest, I took the advice of my agent – and another obvious point was I went where the money was. There is a lot more money in England – I was getting offers from Scottish Premiership clubs but the wages being offered were around half of what I was getting if I went to England, so, for me – and I ain’t going to beat around the bush about it – I went there due to the better offer financially. Also, though, Preston were pushing to get out of League One and in the end we did, we got promoted to the Championship that season and I viewed it as a good move for me. My agent, Colin Murdock, who had played with Hibs had also played with Preston as well, so he knew they had a good chance of getting promoted that season. I went there to try and test myself out down in England; I went there for money and I went there to try and get promoted as well.”
Little only made 17 appearances while down in England for Preston, Blackpool and Accrington Stanley.
“I went to Preston and started really well; I started the first seven games. I went away on international duty with Northern Ireland and in the first game of the European Qualifiers, we beat Hungary away. Everything was rosy. I came back and we played Walsall away – I tore my hamstring. From that point on, I struggled big time to get back to full fitness. I had constant little injuries in my hamstring and calves. It was really frustrating and I went out on loan to try get games. I got injured again, in my first match with Blackpool. I think what I missed the most was my routine – I had a good routine in Glasgow; I had the best of facilities, a great physio – I had everything I ever wanted at Rangers. Moving somewhere else, where the facilities wasn’t as good, the physio treatments weren’t as extensive as what I was used to either. I think that is what I struggled with more than anything.”
After his release from Preston, Little went on trial with Bradford in the summer of 2016.
“I went to train at Bradford City, under Stuart McCall, during pre-season. The plan was to sign there: I did well for a few days…then I got a hamstring tear, again! Stuart McCall called me in to his office and told me I had been doing well and they would have looked to sign me, but, obviously, due to my injury they now couldn’t. I then made a life decision – I moved straight back up to Glasgow. I packed up my house in Preston, packed up my car and drove up the road. I rented the house out and that was that – I’d had enough of English football – I wanted to go somewhere that I was happier, which is Glasgow. In terms of being disillusioned with football – a little bit. I didn’t and I don’t want football to be my life anymore. When you are a professional footballer, it is your whole life. When you look at some of the boys in Scotland, who have only had 2 or 3 weeks off – that’s all they had in terms of a Summer. I don’t want that anymore. I want to have a good life, and play football but I want to make football a part of my life, not my whole life – that is why I moved back to Glasgow and this is why I felt disillusioned with football, from a professional point of view. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands – I was back in Glasgow doing my own training and that is how I initially got involved [with the Rangers Academy] and it is great that Rangers allowed me to get involved. I never burnt my bridges when I left the club; I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ally McCoist and the club in general. I have a lot of friends there still and it is great that they have given me the opportunity to come back in some capacity. With the kids being at school during the day, they don’t train till night but with me now being part-time with Stirling, it allows me to do both which I am really grateful now.”
Little is now at Stirling Albion and hopes to get fit to help the Binos battle it out for the League Two title.
“I got a phone call out of the blue, last year, from [Stirling manager] Dave Mackay. I had been doing some training and trying to get fit again with Clyde. I was thinking about signing there until the end of the season under Barry Ferguson, but, they had a few issues with finances. Dave Mackay phoned me up and was very straightforward. They were struggling at the time and he was hoping to get a bit of a lift. It all happened in about 3 days – there was no messing about and I quite like that about him, that he is so straightforward. I have really enjoyed working under him so far and with me being signed up for next year now, I am looking forward to it even more now. When you are full-time, you usually do three decent sessions a week plus your game, so going part-time doesn’t change that much as you do two decent sessions plus your game on a Saturday. It then gives players the time to go and do whatever you feel you need to do. At the age of 28, I think I know what I need to do, by now. In that regard, I think being part-time might suit me better. I can hopefully get myself in good nick, train well with the team and play games – playing is the biggie for me. That is the main reason I considered dropping level and dropping to part-time: hopefully, it’ll improve my chances of playing each week. When I played last season, we won the majority of the games. We were on a good run and I was enjoying it again. I got to see the level and the standard and it will be tough, but there is no reason why we can’t be up there challenging. The gaffer has kept the majority of the squad together and added another couple also so we are in a strong position and hopefully we can keep up the good form from the tail end of last season and carry that into this season. I hope to get back involved as soon as possible. I am still recovering from the skull fracture I suffered last season – weirdly with this injury, I actually got annoyed at myself more than any time before. I felt I let the upset of leaving Preston, not playing much last season after gettng injured at Bradford and so on affect my football. I hadn’t really been given football everything I had to be honest. The skull fracture has given me a wake up call. It made me realise I ain’t done yet, I have got plenty of years left so I now need to work hard to get back as fit as is possible. To be fair, the manager and the chairman have been great with me – they understand my situation and that it might take a wee while to get back up to speed but they are willing to wait on me and because of that, I am delighted to have signed on again next season.”