Switch from St Etienne to Ibrox surprises Carlos Bocanegra

Carlos Bocanegra
Bocanegra did not feature for St Etienne against Nancy Lorraine on Saturday

United States international Carlos Bocanegra says he was happy playing for St Etienne until Rangers sent out their Europa League SOS for a centre-half.

The 32-year-old has signed a three-year contract after switching to Ibrox for an undisclosed fee.

"The move came as a bit of a surprise because I had a good situation in France," he told Rangers' websiteexternal-link.

"I was happy there and not looking to leave. Rangers have lots of history, though, and you can't say no to them."

Former Fulham defender Bocanegra, who joined St Etienne from Rennes for £400,000 in July 2010, is likely to make his Rangers debut against Maribor after international clearance was granted by the French Football Association.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist had been desperate to add to his squad after several injuries in defence ahead of Thursday's first leg of their Europa League qualifier.

And Bocanegra became the new manager's sixth addition since he took over from Walter Smith in the summer - just hours before the signing deadline.

"I was very excited when I heard there was interest from Rangers," said the defender, who has won 93 caps for his country.

"The possibility of coming to Rangers and looking for titles and trophies is awesome.

"You don't get a chance to do that kind of thing too much in your career. It's just fantastic to be here."

"Here", though, is not yet Ibrox as Bocanegra has had to make a mad dash from his home near Lyon, leaving in the early hours of the morning to catch a flight to Frankfurt then Graz.

From there, the defender was driven to the team's base in Slovenia, where he did not arrive until 11am local time.

Despite that journey, the expectation is that he will partner summer signing Dorin Goian in the heart of defence having become the second USA international to join the Ibrox squad within hours.

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, who had already signed a pre-contract agreement to join Rangers in January, was secured earlier after a fee was agreed with Swedish club Orebro.

McCoist had one "wild card" signing available to him ahead of the game in Slovenia and, although Bedoya was free of work permit problems and could have played, the Rangers boss instead registered Bocanegra because of his personnel shortage in defence.

David Weir and Kyle Bartley are both missing through injury, while Sasa Papac and Steven Whittaker are suspended.

Bocanegra, who started his career with Chicago Fire, before playing for Fulham and Rennes, swells the ranks of United States internationals at Ibrox to three, midfielder Maurice Edu also being a likely starter in Slovenia.