THE Govan Ger became a Baku Bear. Andy Halliday may have left Rangers, but Rangers never left him.

The 26-year-old was thousands of miles away from his home and the hallowed Ibrox turf where he wanted to be playing his football. There was only one thought on his mind, though, as he yearned for a return to the club he loves.

Halliday puts his time at Gabala, the few positives and the mistakes made, down to life experience. Now that he is back in blue, he hopes to have far more reasons to be cheerful.

On the field, he was given few chances to impress, while off it he had little to fill the hours between training sessions that were rendered virtually pointless for much of his stay in Azerbaijan.

“I was put in the situation of being a supporter again,” Halliday said. “I was trying to watch as many games as I possibly could.

“I actually didn’t get to watch as many as I would have liked because of the time difference.

“Listen, it wasn’t too dissimilar to our season last year. It was too inconsistent.

“We went to the likes of Hearts, Hibs, Parkhead, Pittodrie and got good results, but we dropped too many points when we shouldn’t have. It’s too inconsistent.

“We need to try to put that right because we have a fight on our hands to try and close this gap and try to finish second. Aberdeen have gone on more consistent runs than ourselves.”

Halliday wasn’t the only Ranger in Azerbaijan that had thoughts of home and he ensured he kept up to speed with events at Ibrox, both on and off the park.

One in particular – the sacking of Pedro Caixinha in October – was more significant for the boyhood Light Blue than others. That was the moment that tipped the balance towards reality rather than hope as he counted down the days to a homecoming.

Halliday said: “I hadn’t really spoken to anyone at the club. But that is that.

“I was over there and I was wishing the boys all the best and I still spoke to them because I have struck a relationship before.

“I am not fussed about that. The past is the past and I wish them all the best.

“They don’t have Sky over there, there is no BT. But, a typical Scotland boy, he had a dodgy box! I couldn’t get one myself.

“They were welcoming to have me in and watch the game and it was a chance to watch the game. It is a great set up they have got there and they are a great bunch of guys.

“I am sure it is difficult for them over there in their line of business and being away from home. But they have got a good setup and a good bunch of guys.”

Halliday was a regular when Rangers won the Championship two seasons ago but his form suffered as Mark Warburton’s side toiled on their return to the Premiership.

Once Caixinha had replaced the Englishman at Ibrox, his chances were limited and it became clear that his head would have to rule his heart as he considered his options in the summer.

A rule that limited the use of foreign players restricted his match time. Away from the game, the move was just as unfulfilling.

“I never knew what the setup was like before I went over there,” Halliday said. “They didn’t have a training ground so it was eat for yourself, and I am not a great cook. Thankfully there were some nice restaurants around the apartment.

“It wasn’t that difficult because the two Dutch boys were in a similar situation to me. So the three of us went out for food and when it was down time we could relax.

“Because of the heat over there, you trained at night so it was really early morning you had to chill out. It was pretty boring if I’m being honest.

“That’s one thing I want to say: the club did everything they could to help me settle,” he said.

“I can look back and say I am thankful for the way Gabala tried to treat me while I was there. It just wasn’t where I wanted to be and I think they knew that pretty early.

“The city was really nice. They have a project there that they are trying to build. There are a lot of promising things coming up.

“There’s a lot of money there from the oil. There’s actually a lot of Scottish people over there.

“I bumped into quite a lot of them. I wish everyone over there all the best but thankfully I am back here and can hopefully kick on.”

Halliday was able to bring an end to his time with Gabala before Graeme Murty’s side made the trip to Florida last weekend and he has spent recent days amongst old friends and new faces.

The chance to pull on the famous blue jersey again is one that he always hoped would arrive. It is an opportunity he is determined to make the most of once more.

“It’s obvious it’s where I want to be,” Halliday said. “There is not much else I can say.

“I’m very happy to be back. I’ve known for a few weeks that there was a possibility. I just had to stay patient and get everything over the line.

“I’m just glad to be here. Being over here is a good way to start as well. I need the training and it’s good to get to know the boys for a couple of weeks before I start.

“If I’m being honest, I knew after two weeks that I had made a mistake.

“There was stuff I never knew within their football policy over there.

“After two weeks, I tried to come back but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I had to see it out.

“Don’t get me wrong, I had to stay professional and try to do my job, but it was always my aim to come back here in January. Once the previous manager left, there was an opportunity to do that.”