Charlie Adam: Day I supported Dundee against club I played for – Rangers
New signing recalls how he cheered on Dens side in 2003 Scottish Cup final
Charlie Adam has admitted he supported Dundee in the 2003 Scottish Cup final against Rangers despite being an Ibrox player at the time.
Adam was unveiled at Dens Park yesterday after signing a two-year deal with the Championship club.
The 34-year-old recalled cheering the team on from the Dundee end at Hampden against Alex McLeish’s treble -chasing Rangers, where Adam was a youth player. He made his first-team debut for the Ibrox club the following season and went on to make 88 appearances.
“I remember being employed by Rangers when (Lorenzo) Amoruso scored in the Scottish Cup final and I was in the Dundee end hoping my team would win,” he said. “Unfortunately, we never (won) but that’s how it goes.”
It is not far from Fintry, the housing scheme in the north of Dundee where Adam was raised, to Dens Park, little more than a couple of miles away. And yet it has taken considerable time for him to fulfil the dream of playing for the team he supported as a boy – and continued to support while a player elsewhere.
Adam trained at the Dundee academy for a spell but chose Rangers when the chance arose. “I have always had to make decisions in my football career and I moved to Rangers instead,” he said. “That’s football. There was never any discussion (about joining Dundee) until two or three weeks ago when James (McPake) picked up the phone.”
The truth is he was too good for Dundee for much of his career, the majority of which was spent in the Premier League and Championship in England.
There’s been glory and some unbearable heartache as he wended his way home via stops including Blackpool, where he earned promotion to the Premier League, and Liverpool, with whom he won the League Cup.
As well as describing the move to Dundee as a dream come true, he revealed the poignant backdrop to his return to the city.
In the time it has taken to reach a deal with the club – three sponsors stepped forward to finance the two-year deal – his mother, Ellie, has been diagnosed with cancer.
His return to the streets of his youth was therefore given even more meaning on a personal level. It was also a matter of some urgency.
Adam has already faced the ordeal of losing his Dundee-supporting former footballer father, also Charlie, to suicide eight years ago.
Adam junior pointed to the heavens after scoring for Dundee at Crystal Palace in a testimonial for former Dens Park goalkeeper Julian Speroni five years ago as over 2000 travelling Dundee fans hailed him as “one of our own”. Adam played alongside former Dundee stars Fabian Caballero, Giorgi Nemsadze and Juan Sara, who were invited to step out of retirement at Selhurst Park that night. He grew up watching these players and others from the South Enclosure at Dens Park.
One of his earliest Dundee heroes was winger Iain Anderson, who he got the chance to play alongside while on loan at St Mirren from Rangers. “The Crystal Palace game was something I was taken aback by because of the support I got,” he recalled.
“Everybody knows you can get overawed. I was lucky to play with some of my heroes that night.
“The way the fans reacted - and I hope they react the same way when we do get crowds back - was just amazing.
“One of my mates was with me and he was talking about it saying to go all the way to London and have that support just shows what this club is all about.”
Adam was always well aware of this passion. He revealed he had already trodden on the sacred Dens Park turf prior to taking part in a photograph session yesterday.
As a nine-year-old he was caught up in the excitement after a Coca-Cola Cup quarter-final penalty shootout win over Hearts almost 25 years ago to the day.
Morten Wieghorst, pictured, scored a superb extra-time goal in the 4-4 draw and also struck the winning penalty to spark a pitch invasion as fans spilled onto the pitch.
“I was young but I remember it,” he said. “I was in the Derry (South Enclosure) then ran on here (the pitch). That’s what it all means. Sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to come back home.”
Personal circumstances, specifically his mother’s illness, meant there was extra reason to get the deal over the line. It’s one reason why Adam was struggling to hide his emotions at being back at Dens Park yesterday.
He underlined how much the move meant when asked if leading Dundee to the Championship title would trump being the pivotal figure as Blackpool landed a £90 million payday when beating Cardiff City in the Championship play-off final at Wembley ten years ago. He didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely,” he said. “This is my club, this is where I was a supporter. I never ever thought I would get the opportunity (to join) because people would always think it was too big a gap. But sometimes you have to sacrifice things in life to make things happen.”
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