Kirk Broadfoot is relishing the chance to help spearhead a Caley Thistle title charge in the Championship.
The 36-year-old former Scotland and Rangers defender joined Inverness on a one-year deal just a couple of months after experiencing relegation from the top-flight with Kilmarnock.
Broadfoot goes straight into the squad for Tuesday’s Premier Sports Cup opener against Peterhead.
He was a free agent and considering his future as a player when the Highlanders, led by boss Billy Dodds, showed an interest.
The head coach had already signed midfielder Reece McAlear on loan from Norwich City, wide midfielders Tom Walsh and Michael Gardyne, and forwards Manny Duku and Billy Mckay.
Hungry to get back to the Premiership with ICT
Despite relocating from Ayrshire to the north of Scotland, Broadfoot, who has four Scotland caps to his name, can’t wait to try to return Caley Thistle to the top table.
He said: “Obviously I didn’t want to end my career with a relegation, and I’m hungry and driven to try and get promotion back to the Premiership.
“That’s one of the many reasons I’m here.
“I feel as if this group have got a chance, so I’m looking forward to that and I suppose it’s a wee bit extra motivation for me after getting that relegation.”
The competitive nature of the Championship appeals to Broadfoot, who sees no reason why ICT cannot get back to the Premiership, having been relegated in 2017 and not yet found a way back.
He stressed: “Promotion would be huge, that’s why I’m here.
“I feel as if with this squad and this manager, we’ve got a good chance.
“I think there’s another six or seven teams in this league that will be thinking the same – it’s wide open.
“In previous years you looked at the likes of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers with huge budgets as the clear favourites, but this year there are probably six or seven teams looking at it and thinking they have a chance.
“Everyone will probably say Kilmarnock are the favourites, because they say they have kept the same budget as they had in the Premiership, but deep down I think six or seven teams will be thinking they’ve got a chance of promotion.”
Family matters at the heart of decision to move north
Although thrilled to have made the move to Caley Thistle, he admits it required careful consideration for his family as a whole.
He explained: “I took a bit of time over it to be honest, it was a big decision for me and my family, but after taking everything into consideration and speaking to the manager and people around the club, I think it’s a great opportunity.
“I actually got lucky when I moved back to Kilmarnock.
“My wife started a new job about three months ago, so it has worked out pretty well for us.
“She has gone part-time now for her job, so it takes a bit of pressure off myself with the kids.
“The kids will be up and down a lot, so it worked out well.
“I took my time because it wasn’t an easy decision – I didn’t want to be away from my kids for three or four nights a week.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle can confirm that both our upcoming home Premier Sports Cup matches will be live streamed and available on Pay-Per-View for £10
Further details on our new ICTV platform and how to buy the matches will be released on Monday
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) July 10, 2021
“But looking at it from a footballing point of view with the age I’m at, looking to get on to the coaching ladder and obviously the playing side of it, looking at the squad, the manager and the staff, I had to take everything into consideration.
“Looking at everything, I think this year is going to be a big challenge, but I think it’s one that this squad has a chance of achieving.”
Gardyne first in the gym
Broadfoot has already been impressed by the work ethic of veteran attacker Gardyne – who joined Inverness after being released by Ross County at the end of the season – and says the older heads can certainly have a real impact at this club this season.
The centre-half said: “It’s good to have the young guys, but I think teams do need experienced guys.
“That’s not just a case of getting old guys, you need guys who are hungry, who are good pros as well.
“Someone like myself, or Michael Gardyne – I’ve only been in for two days, but he was the first in the gym.
“These are the habits young guys need to pick up on.
“It could have been easy for myself to stay down the road, go to a local team and see my career out, but I wanted the challenge.
“The challenge up here of getting promotion, that’s why I’m here.”
Broadfoot admits that after dropping down with Killie, he did think about calling time on playing within the higher levels of the game.
He added: “It was just the three or four days after I got relegated where I just thought it maybe wasn’t for me any more.
✍️ Inverness Caledonian Thistle are delighted to announce the signing of central defender Kirk Broadfoot on a 1 year deal.
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) July 12, 2021
“That was such a low to be honest, it’s hard to take in.
“After having a few days off, I knew I wasn’t ready to retire.
“I was bored already, and my wife was getting annoyed with me. I ended up back in the gym, and I just knew I wasn’t ready to retire, so that’s why I’m still playing.”
Broadfoot the player is priority for Dodds
Although Broadfoot will get the chance to progress as a coach at the Caledonian Stadium, boss Dodds confirmed that it’s doing the business as a key player which matters most right now.
He stressed: “I want him to do a job on the pitch first.
“A number of players have gone up to the training ground to look at coaching the youngsters, and I’m sure Kirk is interested in that.
“I’m sure we’ll allow him to do so when the time is right, but first and foremost his mind needs to be on the job he’s got to do here.
“He’s a very driven person. He just wants to do well, he lives his life properly and he’s made some sacrifices.
“He’s from down my way in Ayrshire, the deepest darkest areas of Ayrshire, so he has given up a lot to come here, which I think shows how driven he is.”
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