HOME is where the heart is for Daniel Candeias and after spending his summer in the very region Rangers are hosting their pre-season camp he is feeling happier than ever.
The Portuguese winger, who made over 50 appearances for the Gers during 2018/19, says he has seen the whole squad step up with the new campaign in sight.
Rangers kick off their new season in under two weeks’ time and the 31-year-old admits there is confidence running through the team.
Speaking to RangersTV Candeias said:
“I like being back in Portugal, I like being back in my home country and for the team this is a very good place to come to work.
“I am comfortable at Rangers so feel comfortable in every country but I am always happy when I am back in Portugal. I make sure I come back for one week in the summer with my family and stay in Vilamoura.
“It was good to get some time off after a long season; I think the players needed a break. The break is too short but it always nice to be with family and friends and in the sun.
“I haven’t been to this facility before, this was my first time and I was surprised with the quality of the centre and the hotel is very nice too. I think this is one of the best places I have been for a pre-season.
“Pre-season is hard work but players need to be ready for another long season again so this preparation is good.
“Last year was tougher and now we have moved up another level so it is hard but I think people have come into this pre-season with more confidence.
“I think this year I have come back better, I feel better so far. I have moved up a group in the running this season. Last year I was running with Alfredo!”
Candeias now faces new competition for his place with the arrival of Sheyi Ojo, Jordan Jones and Jake Hastie. But rather than worrying he believes the new faces will make him better.
He continued: “The competition is good for me, you need to work harder and you also improve more.
“I am looking forward to this season and the important thing is that the team is stronger than last year. This season we have not only signed great players but also great people so I am very happy.”
The winger has had dramatically different European experiences in his first two seasons with the Gers.
He made his debut in the home leg of 2017’s first round qualifier which saw Progres Niederkorn knock Rangers out but then was an integral part of the team which reached last season’s Europa League group stages – his back heel against Rapid Vienna at Ibrox to send Alfredo Morelos on to score providing a stand out moment.
He could face Progres again if Rangers win their first round tie and Progres beat Cardiff University and then Cork City.
He smiled: “I am looking forward to the first European game; we need to be fully focussed in the first game and then put Rangers into the group stages again.
“I know we could draw Progres but first our focus will be on the first match and winning that. After that if we have a chance to play against them then we need to put it to rest.”