It’s been a long journey for Rangers over the last ten years, from playing in the lower leagues of Scottish football against part-time teams to winning their 55th league title, a Scottish Cup and reaching a European final. Along the way, key players played an important part on their way back to the top of Scottish football.
5. Ryan Kent
Ryan Kent spent the first season at Rangers on loan from Liverpool before joining on a permanent basis the following season for £6.5 million. The Englishman made the left-wing position his own and was always the first choice on the left flank. Kent was the type of player who would cause the opposition’s defence all sorts of problems and tie them in knots. The 26-year-old had many memorable moments while wearing the blue jersey. The wonder goal against Celtic at Parkhead in the 2-1 victory back in 2019 was the first time the Ibrox side defeated their arch-rivals there since 2010.
The breathtaking display in the 4-2 victory away from home against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League – a brilliant individual performance that got the whole of European football talking about the winger. Unfortunately, the tricky winger’s time at Ibrox ended on a disappointing note, with his last appearance being in the Scottish Cup semi-final 1-0 defeat to Celtic, where he got hooked off at half-time after a pitiful performance. Kent made 218 appearances, scoring 33 goals and 56 assists, and is playing for Turkish side Fenerbahce.
4. Allan McGregor
Allan McGregor re-joined Rangers as a free agent from Hull City in 2018. The Scottish goalkeeper was a tremendous acquisition and made many crucial saves in high-pressure games. In the last minute of the game, the world-class save against Slavia Prague in the 1-1 draw in the Europa League last 16 was jaw-dropping. With many in disbelief at how the shot-stopper pulled it off and when asked about the save after the game, McGregor gave a hilarious response: “You see it, you react to it, and you hope it doesn’t go in, and it never – happy days.”
McGregor’s most important save was in Rangers’ 1-0 victory over Celtic in the 2020/2021 season. Striker Leigh Griffiths shot from outside the box, and McGregor got fingertips on it. It was a game-changing save in the title race, and that narrative may have been different if McGregor never pulled it off. The Edinburgh-born keeper won the 2020/2021 SPFL Premiership Player of the Year at 39 years old. The influence of McGregor in Rangers’ title-winning season was huge. The Rangers Hall of Famer left in the summer and is expected to retire. McGregor will go down as arguably the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper.
3. Alfredo Morelos
Alfredo Morelos was signed by Pedro Caixinha for £1 million from HJK Helsinki in 2017. The Colombian led the line for Rangers and was the talisman for many years. The Colombian was seen as a polarising figure in Scottish football due to his physical style and ability to antagonise the opposition team and supporters. Morelos is known to have a short temper, picking up a total of six red cards during his time at Ibrox.
‘El Bufalo,’ a nickname given to him by the Rangers faithful, was an outstanding player. The striker shined on the European stage, scoring big goals against FC Porto, Feyenoord, Dortmund, and of course – the last-minute winner against Legia Warsaw to send Rangers to the Europa League group stage in the 2019/2020 season. That season was his most prolific, scoring 29 goals, and he likely would have scored more if the season didn’t finish early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Morelos holds the record as Rangers’ top European goal scorer with 32 goals, surpassing Rangers legend Ally McCoist, who had the previous record with 21 goals. The 27-year-old is an icon and is one of the most iconic players to ever play for Rangers. Morelos played 269 games, scoring 124 goals, and is currently without a club.
2. Connor Goldson
Connor Goldson was signed by Steven Gerrard from Brighton for £3 million in 2018. Goldson has been at the heart of the Rangers defence for over five years. The vocal centre-half had a slow start to his career at Ibrox, making a mistake in the 4-3 defeat to Spartak Moscow in 2018. Gerrard made a dig after the game, stating: “I think Under-12s or Under-13s can normally clear the ball with either foot.
When you get a little bit older you learn to play the game positionally.” Goldson has come on leaps and bounds since and proved to be the best centre-back the Light Blues have had in years. The 30-year-old’s fitness levels are sensational, playing a staggering total of 61 games in the 2021/2022 season. Goldson’s best moment was his brace in the 2-0 victory over Celtic at Parkhead in the Gers’ title-winning season. The Rangers vice-captain was formidable and was unlucky not to be crowned Player of the Year that season.
1. James Tavernier
James Tavernier was signed by Mark Warburton from Wigan Athletic in 2015 for £200,000, while Rangers were still playing in the Scottish Championship. Tavernier captained Rangers to their first league title in ten years, a Europa League final, to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 12 years, and a Scottish Cup victory. The Rangers Hall of Famer is a captain who leads by example, always wants the ball, and never hides – the definition of a model professional.
Tavernier has scored 102 goals, with 117 assists (and counting) for Rangers – which is stunning considering he’s a full-back. Tavernier also finished as the 2021/2022 Europa League’s top goal scorer with seven goals. Rangers might not have achieved the things they did if Tavernier wasn’t in the side. That’s why he is the club’s best and most important signing of the last ten years.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Craig Williamson – SNS Group