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Dunfermline ace Graham Dorrans: Steven Whittaker friendship, ex-Rangers clubmates Kai Kennedy and Rhys Breen – and ‘chats’ with Dundee and MK Dons

Nearing fitness: Dunfermline star Graham Dorrans
Nearing fitness: Dunfermline star Graham Dorrans

Graham Dorrans has revealed how a call from ex-Scotland and Norwich teammate Steven Whittaker set the wheels in motion for his switch to Dunfermline.

Dorrans, 34, penned a two-year deal with the ambitious Fifers on Tuesday morning — a statement of intent from the club’s new German owners DAFC Fussball GmbH after fighting off interest from north and south of the border.

The parties have been in talks ever since it became apparent that the former Rangers and Dundee midfielder would be returning from his spell in the A-League with Western Sydney Wanderers.

And it was a chat with Pars coach Whittaker — during one of their regular catch-ups — which initially sparked the interest.

Dorrans signs

“I’ve been close with Stevie for a long time; since I broke into the Scotland squad,” said Dorrans. “We were good mates down at Norwich and we always kept in touch.

“There were a couple of times when I asked how Dunfermline were doing, and how he was getting on with his coaching — then he got in touch a few weeks ago and things snowballed from there.

“Once I knew I was leaving to come back home [from Australia], Steven told me the quality that’s in the squad and the way the manager works — which I knew anyway.

“He told me the standards here and said that I would really enjoy it.

“Hearing that from someone like Stevie was definitely part of my decision in coming here, but I just had to take that little bit of time to make sure everything was right for myself.

“At the age I’m at, this might be my last club so I want to enjoy the next couple of years.”

The lure of Peter Grant

As Dorrans alludes to, he is also no stranger to Grant, having played under the Dunfermline boss when he was a coach at West Brom.

It is a period he reflects warmly upon — Dorrans made more than 150 appearances for the Baggies and represented them in the English Premier League — and Grant’s philosophies and methods stuck with him.

“I really enjoyed working with Peter and have met him a few times since — and even asked him for advice a few times,” continued Dorrans.

Dorrans in attendance at Dundee’s recent 5-2 win over Forfar

“I like his coaching style, his work ethic and the standards he sets in training.

“When you get to my age and the stage of my career, you look for certain things — and his style of play and coaching methods suit me down to the ground.”

While Dorrans contends that the move to East End Park was always on the cards, he spent periods training with MK Dons and Dundee, the club he left for Western Sydney Wanderers in 2019.

Asked whether a deal could have come to fruition at either of those clubs, he added: “There were chats but when I was looking at my options and assessing what was best for me, this was it.”

Wizard of Oz

Dorrans was an in-demand free agent after agreeing to annul his two-year deal Down Under, with his family failing to settle in the new surroundings.

However, he has nothing but good things to say about the experience, standard and his own performances while in the A-League.

“It was a great experience,” he continued. “Through my entire career, I’ve always wanted to go abroad and play — so when the opportunity came up to play over there, it was fantastic for me.

“Western Sydney Wanderers were great and had fantastic facilities — top-notch stuff. It was great to go over there and be part of that.

Dorrans in action in Australia

“Unfortunately the family didn’t settle too well and we came back a few weeks ago, but I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go over there and give it a try.

“I think the football over there can get looked down on — but that shouldn’t be the case. There are some very good footballers and good teams over there.”

Dorrans’ capture followed hot on the heels of the signings of Rhys Breen and Kai Kennedy, who were precocious teenagers at Rangers when he was a more senior player at Ibrox.

He added: “Rhys is a big, strong, athletic defender and Kai Kennedy is a very good footballer.

“When I was at Rangers, Kai was just filling out and growing but he seems to have got himself in the gym and bulked up. There’s no doubt he’s got top, top quality.”

Championship title tilt

Those signings — and Dunfermline reaching the last-16 of the Premier Sports Cup where they will face Rangers — have contributed to a feel-good factor and convinced more fans that Grant’s promise of a promotion push will come to fruition.

“Why not? We should be,” Dorrans echoed. “This is a big club and when I was growing up, it was always in the top league. I’ve got no qualms about taking that challenge.

“It’s a tough league — Hamilton and Kilmarnock have come down — and there are other good teams, so it will be difficult. But I don’t see why we shouldn’t be aiming to win it.”