SOMEWHERE in Chris Long’s mum’s loft resides the autograph of Steven Gerrard, personally dedicated to the Motherwell striker as a six-year-old. The only problem is that one of these natives of Huyton, Liverpool became a dyed-in-the wool Evertonian while the other one is what Long calls a “Koppite”.

In fact, both men’s stories are even more internecine and complicated than that. While Long, who turned up in full Liverpool gear on his first day as an Everton academy player, regards himself as a bit of a “turncoat”, pictures are also believed to be in existence of the young Gerard in full Everton kit with the old first division trophy in the Goodison Park side’s Championship year of 1987, a rouse mischievously dreamed up by his uncle Leslie.

Anyway, Long is determined to be centre of attention when these two men’s personal narratives intertwine again at Ibrox this afternoon. While it is a ground he has graced once before, in a pre-season friendly in the colours of Burnley, he could well have been done so on a far more regular basis had he not declined the chance to join the club under the reign of his one-time Brentford gaffer Mark Warburton.

“I am an Evertonian but he comes from the same part of Liverpool as I’m from, Huyton,” said Long. “He is a Koppite, isn’t he?

“Half of my pals idolise him and my family is split as well,” he added. “To be fair, I am a bit of a turncoat – I shouldn’t really be telling you boys that, should I?

“I was at Everton when I was six years of age, but on my first day there I turned up in my Liverpool kit! I was there until I was 20 and made my debut and that. The Liverpool bit came out of me but my family is split to be fair. My dad’s side are Liverpool fans, and my mum’s side are Evertonian.

“I was still a Liverpool fan when the Istanbul final came along to be fair, then obviously it turned. He was an outstanding player anyway, everyone in Liverpool respects him because he was a very good player.

“I’ve never met him, although I had an autograph of his when I was six. ‘To Christopher’ with his signature. He was some player, like, unbelievable. It is probably in the loft or something. My mum could probably dig it out. But she is an Evertonian so she probably won’t!”

Long will go head to head with pals Jon Flanagan and Scott Arfield in Govan today, but he might have been regarding them as team-mates had he not opted to join Burnley, where Arfield was also a player, when time came for him to move on from Everton.

“Obviously I know the size of the club and I know there was interest in me before, when I was leaving Everton and Mark Warburton was there,” he said. “My two good friends play for them as well so it would be good to get one over on them. We are going there to win obviously. But Steven Gerrard has done well, my two mates who play for them can’t speak highly enough of him.

“I had played for Mark Warburton before at Brentford, we got into the playoffs in the Championship with them,” said Long. “Burnley had recently been relegated to the championship and I had scored goals in the championship the year before under Warburton. I felt like if I stayed at Everton I didn’t want to just be another loan player. So I chose to go to Burnley and it didn’t really work out for me there over three years. So that was why I am starting again here.”

Long is determined to be a knockout success in the Scottish game – having finally decided a change of scenery was required this summer after various loan spells whilst registered to Everton and Burnley, then a couple of stints in League One at first Fleetwood Town and then Blackpool. The only problem was that within minutes of his first appearance north of the border, in the BetFred Cup down in Dumfries, he found himself knocked cold. “I had had a good pre-season and was hoping to kick on in those cup games with those goals under my belt,” he said. “But a freak accident happened. The ball planted me straight in the face and knocked me clean out! The doc was asking me questions and I didn’t know where I was.”

Having once shared a striking spot in England youth squads with likes of Harry Kane, Long blames himself for his failure to break the big time thus far. He wouldn’t be the first, nor the last player, for whom the penny dropped during a stint in the Scottish game. “I played for the 1993s with England once and was in the same team as Harry Kane,” said Long. “You could say he’s definitely exceeded all expectations! He’s flying. But I’ve played with a lot of good players at Everton and with England so playing the last four years in League One has been frustrating. Now I need to get my head on, work hard and get back to where I should be.

"I’m to blame for the fact it didn’t work out before,” he added. “I was just young and stupid both in my lifestyle when I was playing or me thinking that I should have been playing when I wasn’t. Now it’s down to me to change it.”