Jorg Albertz knows only too well that Rangers players are judged in every single game, and that they are under pressure to produce the goods.
But Old Firm games and European nights are the stage on which heroes can emerge.
Following the 2-0 loss to Celtic a fortnight ago, Steven Gerrard’s men are well aware that the spotlight will be on them to get a positive result in their Europa League tie with Feyenoord on Thursday night.
In the aftermath of that Ibrox defeat, Gerrard was criticised for his team selection and tactics. The players weren’t let off the hook by the Light Blues support either.
But Albertz knows that’s part and parcel of playing for a massive club.
“The Hammer” told The Sunday Post: “Rangers need to show they are back on the right track, and the right moment is to do it is against Feyenoord.
“Every player in a blue shirt should be desperate to get out on to the pitch for the European game.
“I remember when I was at Rangers, we were all hyper in the dressing room before a big game.
“We couldn’t wait to get in the tunnel and then run out in front of the fans.
“To play for Rangers in the Old Firm games and the European games is what it is all about.
“And then you go out onto the pitch and make a difference. That was always our aim.
“Playing under the floodlights at Ibrox is a dream come true.
“There is usually a little bit of zip in the grass and the ball flies around.
“I wish I was still able to play. I’d love another opportunity to pull on my boots again and play in Europe for Rangers.
“But, unfortunately I don’t have the power to turn the clock back 20 years!”
The Rangers supporters will wish he had.
Signed by Walter Smith for £4 million from Hamburg in the summer of 1996, the German midfielder helped the club win three league titles and four domestic Cups, and was part of the legendary nine-in-a-row team.
Albertz also scored crucial goals in European games, and the 48-year-old recalled: “The European nights were just the best.
“The Champions League was such a special competition, and I always felt proud and privileged to be wearing the Rangers jersey on such huge occasions.
“A few games stick in my mind for different reasons, and a special memory is the night we played Bayern Munich in the 1999-2000 Champions League at Ibrox.
“We drew 1-1 and I scored our goal with a shot from the edge of the box.
“We deserved to win, but we lost points when they equalised in the last minute with a deflected goal.
“We were all absolutely gutted.
“The return fixture in Munich also stands out for me.
“We needed just a point to qualify from the section into the next stage.
“In front of a huge amount of our travelling fans, we played Bayern Munich off the park with some brilliant football.
“Claudio Reyna, Barry Ferguson, Rodney Wallace, Arthur Numan and Michael Mols were all outstanding.
“Michael ran the Bayern defence ragged for the first half-hour. But then we lost him to a serious knee injury.
“He was a massive loss to the team for the rest of that season
“Bayern took the lead with a first-half penalty. But we hit the woodwork three times, at least, and Oliver Kahn made four or five stunning saves.
“We were so unlucky and also so disappointed to come so close.
“The other game that will never leave me was when we played PSV Eindhoven in the same Champions League campaign.
“I was a substitute, but came off the bench midway through the first-half when Claudio Reyna got injured.
“We deserved to win, and justice was done when I got the only goal of the game with five minutes remaining.
“I felt I should have been playing in the team, but Dick Advocaat had been leaving me out.
“So I enjoyed my goal. I wanted to show I deserved to be in the team.
“My family had travelled to Holland for the game, and they all enjoyed my celebration in front of them that night.
“It was just so unfortunate that we could not make it beyond the group stages during my time at Rangers. We certainly deserved to on a couple of occasions.
“But the European nights were great.
“In Walter Smith’s team, we had talented guys such as Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne. We felt we were very strong and capable of causing any side problems.
“Brian was an outstanding footballer. Probably the very best I played with. He was special.”
Steven Gerrard does not have a player of the Dane’s quality on Thursday night, and will need the core of his team to be at their very best against Feyenoord.
Against Dutch opposition, however, there is nothing to fear.
Albertz said: “Play within the structure that you are given by the manager and the coaching staff, but also play with freedom.
“Don’t be scared to take a player on and try something to make a positive thing happen.
“I hope Rangers get the result because this is an important few weeks for them.
“They have big league games and the League Cup quarter-final tie against Livingston.
“Every game will be taken seriously and there is no margin for error.
“But getting good results in Europe can really lift the season and take everything to a new level.
“It gives you so much confidence.
“This is the first game in the Europa League group stage, and they need to be ready and willing to give everything.
“The Celtic loss was a sore one. But in football, setbacks happen.
“There is no such thing as a perfect season. It’s about how you recover from adversity that is important.
“The result against Celtic was not what anyone at Rangers wanted, but it is still early in the season and there are more than 30 games to recover, including three more Old Firm games in the league.
“The Dutch side will provide tough opposition, but Steven Gerrard and his players must be confident of a victory.
“I’m sure they will deliver. They have some very talented players in the team, and this is the stage to showcase what you are all about.
“Whether it is Jermain Defoe or Alfredo Morelos up front, they need the right service given to them.
“That’s where Ryan Kent will come in.
“It’s good for Rangers to have him back, and he will be full of hunger to show what he can do to help the team.”
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