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Former Rangers star Greg Stewart on the night that blighted the Europa League and his new life in India

© SNS GroupGlen Kamara squares up to Ondrej Kudela, with Connor Goldson ready to jump in
Glen Kamara squares up to Ondrej Kudela, with Connor Goldson ready to jump in

Greg Stewart knows the Rangers players inside out, having played with most of them for two years.

He reckons that, right now, they are performing at less than three-quarters of their full capacity.

Stewart was part of the squad that won the title last season to stop Celtic from doing 10-in-a-row.

He leaves for India on Thursday after signing for Owen Coyle’s Jamshedpur.

Around the same time, he hopes that his former team-mates get their Europa League campaign on track by defeating Sparta Prague.

He is sure there is more to come from Steve Gerrard’s men, and that they will eventually find their true form, which will lead to them retaining the title.

© SNS Group
Greg Stewart (right) played his part in Rangers’ league win, and he’s seen celebrating the title success with striker, Jermain Defoe (Pic: SNS Group)

The 31-year-old former Dundee, Birmingham City, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock striker told The Sunday Post: “I’ve watched every game this season, and the lads are just that wee bit off it at the moment.

“But they have still been winning games, and during the week made it into the semi-final of the Premier Sports Cup.

“Despite being a bit off it, they are still top of the league, and beat Celtic 1-0 in the first Old Firm game of the season. So there is plenty to be positive about.

“However, I do get where the manager and Gary McAllister are coming from when they say they want the team to be more clinical.

“From what I’ve seen, the lads are playing at about 60 or 70%. There is plenty more to come from them.

“I’m confident they will recapture the form of last season and when they do, they will not be stopped.

“I believe Rangers will win the Premiership again.

“They will also want to do better in the domestic cup competitions. It was a sore one to lose last season in both tournaments.

“The lads will be looking to win a Final at Hampden, that’s for sure.

“There also has to be a focus on the Europa League. European nights are very special, and it’s a great feeling to win the big games at Ibrox.

“The opening game was a disappointment, losing 2-0 to Lyon. But these things can happen in Europe. It’s important not to dwell on it and move on.

“The next challenge for the team comes on Thursday night, away to Sparta Prague.

“Winning away from home in Europe is never easy, but Rangers will go there with the correct mindset to come back from Czech Republic with the three points.

“Getting into the last 32 of the Europa League will be the immediate target, and they can take it from there. Being in Europe beyond Christmas is always an aim.”

© SNS Group
Glen Kamara is consoled by Steven Gerrard after the Slavia game (Pic: SNS Group)

For the Light Blues to get a result on Thursday evening, they will need all of their players bang on it.

Glen Kamara will have an important role to play, and Stewart expects the midfielder to be buzzing after agreeing a new four-year contract with the Ibrox club.

Kamara was at the centre of a storm last season in the Europa League when Slavia Prague player, Ondrej Kudela, was found guilty by UEFA of racially abusing the Finnish midfielder near the end of the Ibrox clash.

Chaos ensued, and Kudela was later banned for 10 games.

Stewart was a substitute that evening, and had a bird’s-eye view of the controversy.

He said: “What happened to Glen was disgraceful, and that’s why, as his team-mates, we all stood by him 100%.

“He is going to the Czech Republic next week, but it’s not the same team they are playing.

“So hopefully everything will be fine for Glen, and all the focus will be on the football.

“He is absolutely outstanding, a top, top player. He has signed a new contract, and that is great news for Rangers.

“It actually surprised me that some of the top European clubs didn’t buy him during the last transfer window.

“Having guys of the quality of Glen and James Tavernier is why I’m confident Rangers will have another excellent season.

“James is the captain and a fine leader. Over the piece, his form for Rangers has been great.

“What he achieved last season was sensational, and he has followed that up this season by scoring that brilliant goal against St Johnstone a couple of weeks ago to win the game.

“Nathan Patterson is also hugely talented. He is young and has everything going for him. He can be Scotland’s right-back for years to come.

“He has great pace and is very direct. When he starts on a run with his long stride, he takes a bit of stopping. It’s just about him getting enough first-team games to keep him happy.”

© Alan Harvey / SNS Group
Greg Stewart celebrates Joe Aribo’s goal in the Europa League comeback against Braga

Stewart is now looking to get as many games as possible under his belt in the Indian Super League.

The league starts next month, and the player is really excited about the next chapter of his career.

He said: “When I left Rangers, it was on my mind to go abroad and try something different.

“I had a couple of good offers from Scottish clubs, but I was looking to move away from the Premiership.

“I felt I was at an age where it was now or never, sort of thing.

“I’ve been in the UK all of my career, but wanted to broaden my horizons as a footballer, and as a person.

“Ianis Hagi’s dad, Gheorghe, is the manager of Farul Constanta in Romania, and they were keen to sign me. Talks took place, but it fell through.

“Then I got a call from Owen Coyle about going to India, and I was really keen.

“It’s an exciting league, and there is a great challenge waiting for me over there. The standard is improving all the time, and my aim is to go there and help Jamshedpur to be successful.

“I want to score goals, make assists and play my part in a winning season.

“The weather will also be good, and it means I won’t have to de-ice the car in the winter mornings before going to training!

“So I will go there with Owen and his assistant, Sandy Stewart. Peter Hartley is the captain, and I know him from when he was at Motherwell.

“I spoke to Peter, and he gave the whole set-up a glowing report. The standard of football is high.

“Owen is also a top manager and has a brilliant CV. Getting the opportunity to work under him also played a part in my decision. He almost won the ISL a couple of years ago with Chennaiyin, so he knows what it’s all about and what is needed.

“It will be down to some serious work before I know it.

“I’m fully focused and determined to make the next six or seven months really positive for myself and the football club.

“I can’t wait to get started.”