James Tavernier will lead Rangers out in Seville for the Europa League Final – and nobody deserves it more.
He has been brilliant right through the campaign, and I hope to see him holding the trophy aloft around 10pm on Wednesday night.
James would become only the second skipper in the Gers’ history to do that on the European stage, following on from John Greig 50 years ago in the Cup-Winners’ Cup Final in Barcelona.
He goes into the showdown against Eintracht Frankfurt as the top scorer in the tournament. For a full-back, that is quite incredible.
His attacking prowess really blossomed when Steven Gerrard took over at the club.
Steven’s principles on the game allowed James to flourish, and be more offensive than most full-backs.
Some people have suggested that he should be considered for the England squad. They may well be right.
I’m sure Gareth Southgate and his staff will be aware of James, and it will be up to them whether they select him or not.
By now, I’m sure Steve Clarke will have already checked out whether he has a Scottish granny!
International recognition is for down the line, however. The here and now is about trying to achieve a massive success for Rangers.
To be in a European Final is unbelievable.
But it’s maybe something that Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players don’t want to analyse too much.
If they sit down and stop to think too much about it, they might just get nervous about what’s on the horizon.
They should be thinking that they are there on merit, and that they can win it. That is for sure.
Eintracht will be tough opponents, and should not be underestimated. But Rangers have nothing to fear. It is there for them to win.
In previous rounds, the opposition has struggled to cope with the Light Blues’ physicality and fitness levels. I’ve been really impressed with their intensity.
That has been the case in Europe, but also on the domestic scene.
Despite their hectic schedule, Rangers have never looked tired, or out on their feet in the past two months.
There is now one last push required, and it could lead to success, both in midweek and in the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts on Saturday.
Right now, the focus will be on Seville. The match at Hampden won’t enter their thoughts until the 24 hours leading up to the game.
Giovanni will not let any minds wander. He is good at that.
He deserves plenty of credit, having taken over from Steven mid-season.
The Dutchman inherited a team at the top of the Premiership table, in the semi-final of the Premier Sports League Cup and still in European football.
Rangers weren’t broken. It’s just that Steven decided to leave to take up a new challenge at Aston Villa.
Giovanni has a good group of players, and he has certainly squeezed plenty out of them.
There were two or three blips after the winter break, and points were dropped in the title race. Celtic took full advantage.
But since they lost 3-0 at Parkhead in early February, Rangers have been very, very good.
Giovanni has stayed focused, and never allowed outside influences or situations to dominate his thoughts.
He has never had a petted lip when things didn’t go for his team. He remained professional and dignified.
Ange Postecoglou, across the city at Celtic, has been exactly the same.
Both men have been first-class in how they’ve represented their respective football clubs. They’ve set very high standards.
Ange has had brilliant success in his first season at Parkhead. Giovanni is on the verge of winning a European trophy.
The Celtic fans are already smiling. Let’s hope the Rangers fans are just as happy as their great rivals’ supporters on Wednesday night.
Winning a European trophy is very, very special, and I was lucky to win three European Cups and the Super Cup with Liverpool.
So my message to the Rangers players is give it everything you’ve got – and have no regrets.
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