Dan desperate to play his part for QPR
DAN Shittu is determined to make up for missing QPR’s promotion party six years ago by steering them to the Premier League this season.
The popular centre-back, who rejoined Rangers on a six-month contract last week, played a key role when the club emerged from the doldrums under Ian Holloway.
But a cruciate ligament injury against Bournemouth ruled Shittu out of the Rs’ run-in as they clinched promotion back to the Championship in 2004 – and now he aims to make amends.
“Everybody knows how I felt that I couldn’t play when the team got promoted,” Shittu told the Times. “The players and fans still made me feel like I was playing in that game, but it was still hard to take.
“So it’d be nice to make up for it and play my part in helping QPR to get promoted again. It’s looking really positive and now it’s about us being mentally strong and make sure we keep performing in games.
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“It’s an emotional feeling to be back and I’m glad that we’re playing for something as well. I had other options, some in the Premier League as well, and I had to weight them all up.
“I spoke to the gaffer and got on really well with him, not that I didn’t with Kenny Jackett – Kenny knows I respect him a lot. I’m looking not short-term but long-term and in the end QPR ticked all the boxes.”
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The 30-year-old Nigerian international had been playing under Jackett – once Holloway’s number two at Loftus Road – since October on a short-term deal for Millwall.
The Lions offered to keep him until the end of the season, but Shittu was keen to return to the club where he made his name, playing 182 games over four and a half seasons before joining Watford for �1.6m in 2006.
And the defender, who also spent two seasons with Bolton, has no fears about risking the reputation and status of crowd favourite that he established during that first spell at Rangers.
“A lot of people say things about not going back, but for me it’s about believing in yourself and your ability,” Shittu added. “I’m still the same person I was all those years back.
“The difference is I’m more experienced now, so I don’t see how that can be bad. I know I can still play top-level football and I’m going to take my time, settle in and be positive.
“Before I decided to sign for the club I was getting a lot of facebook and twitter messages asking if I’d already signed and it was overwhelming to see that QPR fans wanted me to come back.”
With Matthew Connolly and Kaspars Gorkss forming a solid alliance in central defence this season, Fitz Hall on the substitutes’ bench and Peter Ramage hopeful of returning from injury before the end of the season, Shittu has a battle on his hands to capture a place in the starting line-up.
Describing himself as ‘about 85 per cent’ match fit, he admitted: “When I signed for Millwall it took me three or four games to get back to 100 per cent fitness.
“It always seems to happen that in my first game for a new club I don’t last! There’s either injury – cramp or something – or I get sent off, like I did the first time I joined QPR.
“I’m just going to try and work my way back. I never expected to come here and walk straight into the team anyway – that’d be disrespectful to the players that have been doing so well.”