Joe Aribo has paid tribute to the father figure of the Rangers dressing room – “Uncle” Jermain Defoe.
The on-loan Bournemouth man has signed a pre-contract to join Rangers on a permanent basis this summer, and former Charlton playmaker Aribo is delighted.
He and midfield partner Glen Kamara have made sure to soak up as much as they can from the former West Ham, Portsmouth and Spurs striker.
And they believe the good habits that have kept him tucking away goals at the age of 37 are already rubbing off on those around him.
Nigeria international Aribo said: “You can see what Jermain does for us, Glen Kamara and I. We call him Uncle!
“You can see how professional he is, he is the first one in and the last one to go home.
“It just shows why he is still able to do what he is doing, even at the age he is at.”
Defoe will have to bear the burden of leading Gers’ attack this weekend as top-scorer Alfredo Morelos completes a three-game ban as his team take on Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.
Aribo admits there are major differences in the way the two operate.
But having seen Defoe notch his 16th goal of the season during Wednesday’s win over St Mirren he reckons it is down to the rest of the Light Blues line-up to adapt in order to get the best out of a poacher who sits eighth in the Premier League’s all-time goals list.
“We know what Jermain can do and we know what kind of striker he is, whereas Alfredo is very different to him.
“You have to adapt to who you are playing with and that is what we have to do.”
Defoe was on target in Gorgie last season as Gers claimed a 3-1 win but their previous Tynecastle visit this term was a more frustrating afternoon as Steven Gerrard’s side had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Aribo knows there will be a hostile reception waiting for his team as hearts look to kick-start a miserable season.
But he believes he is now part of team getting used to the added pressure being applied to their shoulders as the title race with Celtic heats up.
He continued: “It was a difficult one to take because obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted but we have the chance to rectify what we did the last time and come out and be better.
“They use it (Tynecastle) as a big factor for them and you can see with the crowd being close it is a bit intimidating but you can’t use it as an excuse and we just have to be better than last time.
“One thing I have always said is that the fans here at Rangers, they are just ruthless, they want to win every game and it has to be by a big margin.
“I know every week I have to perform, I have to be the best that I can be and we have to do that as a team also.
“That pressure makes you a better player and a better person because you know if you’re sloppy or you’re not at your best then you will come out of the team. It is good pressure and it is what you need to be the best that you can be.
“Momentum is a big thing and if you are winning then you just want to keep winning, keep playing and keep the games coming thick and fast so you can keep winning.”
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