We were part of the Ibrox family...it was really difficult to walk away

TIME will eventually heal Rangers' wounds … but the pain remains for Maurice Edu.

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Maurice Edu will always remember his dramatic stoppage-time winner against Celtic in 2010
Maurice Edu will always remember his dramatic stoppage-time winner against Celtic in 2010

It is two years on Friday the Light Blues were plunged into administration and the wheels put in motion on a series of events that would see a title-winning squad decimated, Ally McCoist's side drop to Scotland's lowest division and supporters put through an emotional wringer as their club was engulfed in crisis.

Edu was one of the last players to jump ship at Ibrox, the American not heading for the exit door until late in August, 2012, as he signed for Premiership side Stoke.

By then, a host of his team-mates had long since gone, stalwarts like Steven Naismith, Steven Whittaker and Allan McGregor leaving on free transfers.

The actions of some players during that turbulent summer left a sour taste in the mouths of many, but the pain on the terraces was shared in the dressing room.

"Everyone was in a different situation and everyone's circumstances were different," Edu told SportTimes.

"You can't really compare one situation to another and say 'he should have done that or shouldn't have done that'.

"From my point of view, I was in a position where, if I left, I wanted to get the club a fee. It may or may not have impacted on the situation, but I wanted to help.

"I was in a position where I was able to do that and it was something I wanted to do. I thought it was a good gesture and a way of giving back to the club as much as I could.

"But, as I say, everyone was in a different situation, so I can't comment on what the other guys did.

"It was hard for all of us to leave. We had sympathy with the fans. It is the club they support and love, and it was going through a hard time.

"Nobody wanted to see it happening to Rangers. It was hard for the players. People were saying 'it is just a job for them, they don't really care'.

"But when you have been a part of Rangers, especially for as long as most of us had been there, you grow close to it and it is more than just a club.

"We were the Rangers family - the players, the staff, the fans. We all felt close to the club, so it was hard for us to have to part ways and leave under those circumstances."

Edu's exit brought a premature end to a successful Ibrox career that saw him win several honours following his £2.6million switch from Toronto in August, 2008.

A fourth successive SPL title was in Rangers' sights when their financial collapse turned the club upside down.

And the American international is confident there will be a bright future at Ibrox once again.

He said: "I enjoyed my time there. It was great for me to be winning trophies and playing in the Champions League and I wish Rangers all the best for the future.

"Everyone who has played for the club and supports the club is anxious to see them back where they belong as soon as possible.

"Rangers should be winning leagues and cups, and I am sure everyone can't wait to see another Old Firm game. I, and I'm sure my former team-mates, want to see them back where they belong.

"Hopefully everything can be sorted and the club will be back at the top soon."

As part of the squad that, under the guidance of Walter Smith, saw Rangers dominate domestically after the disastrous Paul Le Guen era, Edu is still fondly remembered by the Light Blue legions. And the 27-year-old admits one moment - his dramatic Old Firm winner at Ibrox four years ago this month - stands out as one of the highlights of a successful Ibrox career.

Edu said: "Scoring in any Old Firm game is going to be a great moment and a great experience but, with the circumstances of that game in terms of where we were in the table and the fact it happened in the last seconds, made it all the more special.

"I couldn't have written the script any better. It was only a tap-in, but everything around that game made it a special moment, not just for myself but for all of us involved."

While Rangers have made good progress on their road to recovery, Edu has endured a frustrating spell since his Gers exit.

The midfielder only made a handful of appearances for Stoke but, after returning Stateside, will meet an old friend when his Philadelphia Union side face the Vancouver Whitecaps and striker Kenny Miller.

Edu said: "My time at Stoke wasn't ideal and I wasn't playing much. It was important for me to get back playing, especially in a World Cup year, so when the opportunity came up, it was an easy decision for me.

"It will be good to play against Kenny. I haven't seen him for a while. But I still followed his career and he has done well since coming to the MLS. It will be good to catch up with him."

A return across the pond is a timely one for Edu as he looks to kick-start his career and sets his sights on Brazil.

And he admits a second stint in Light Blue would be another dream come true.

Edu said: "I definitely wouldn't rule it out. You never know what can happen.

"I really enjoyed my time at Rangers and it is a club I will always hold dear to my heart and support and follow what is going on.

"If I ended up coming back in the future, that would be really great."

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