Rangers’ Kemar Roofe lifts lid on ‘body finally working’ after hip operation and Qatar rehab; Celtic goal, WWE’ acrobatics

Rangers' Kemar Roofe is now feeling better than he has
Rangers' Kemar Roofe is now feeling better than he has "in a long time" and is desperate for a scoring moment against Celtic he has yet to savour. Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The amiable 30-year-old is expected to earn a start against Celtic as he craves scoring a derby goal in front of a crowd that would “mean a lot more” than a double he will “never fogert” in a lockdown season win that helped deliver the unbeaten title triumph of 2021. He offers a smiling “no comment” to whether he sees himself as Michael Beale’s best finisher. But has plenty to offer on how the club have a better version of him in their ranks thanks to addressing a long-standing hip problem.

Roofe shied away from the operation required to resolve this issue even prior to pitching up in Govan three years ago, only eventually undergoing it last season. To leave him transformed. “I am feeling as good as I have in a long time,” he said. “My body is finally working. I can do stuff that I couldn’t do before. A lot of the time I was using desire to get myself through games and through training. I would tell coaches and physios that I was fine when I was probably not. That’s just how I am, I want to play. I had always put an operation off because it was a three or four month rehab.

“As a player you haven’t got that sort of time. Unless I couldn’t literally kick a ball, I wasn’t going to do it. And I thought I could get myself through many years and I did. I bet you guys never even knew I had a hip injury. So that’s finally sorted. I went to Aspatar in Qatar for my rehab and got a programme that I keep following. It had been in my head for a very long time. I had known about it for many years and every physio or doctor I spoke to said ‘oooof’, because it is a big rehab. As a player you don’t want to be taking time out. I’m here to win and I can’t do that if I am out for three months. I have been out with different types of injuries but that is part of football – and a secondary effect of my hip. I only played five or six times last season, we weren’t really getting anywhere and we were out of different cups. So it was time for me to do it.

“I had just had enough, physically and mentally, of keep pushing through it only to keep breaking down. So I just thought ‘that’s it, let me get it sorted’. It’s a relief. I can wake up in the mornings and feel good, not have to worry about what is going to go wrong. I can do what I want to do. In my head I wanted to do things but my body couldn’t. That is sometimes the main battle I have during games. It’s not actually what is going on, it’s me versus myself. Can I do this? Shall I do it? Let me do it…”

But Roofe jokes his body now being in sync didn’t account for his hitch-kick falling backwards as he grappled with an opponent to produce a sparkling finish in last week’s 2-0 win at Ross County. “No, that was because I was watching WWE…To be fair I am a flexible person anyway, whether I am injured or not. It was just instinct to do that manoeuvre. It was the only way I was going to make contact with the ball. I had to get my leg there, reach for it and also fight the defender. It just happened and thankfully it went in.”