Giovanni van Bronckhorst issues a rallying cry to his Rangers stars

Let’s become legends! Giovanni van Bronckhorst issues a rallying cry to his Rangers stars and tells them to make history in Seville as they go in search of a first European trophy for 50 years against Eintracht Frankfurt

  • Giovanni van Bronckhorst has issued a rallying cry to his Rangers players
  • He urged them to cement their place in the history books against Frankfurt
  • The Scottish side are hoping to win a first European trophy for 50 years in Spain
  • Van Bronckhorst says the away win over Dortmund was a huge turning point
  • The Dutchman is wary of the threat that Oliver Glasner’s Bundesliga side pose 

Perhaps the true measure of greatness lies in how long a story is told. Fifty years on from Rangers’ last European trophy, Giovanni van Bronckhorst never tires of hearing the tales of those who excelled in Barcelona.

He wants his players to listen, too. And learn. By taking inspiration from the past, he hopes they can be the ones regaling future generations about a night when Rangers became kings on the continent.

The 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup feat has recently been the subject of a feature film production, preserving the story in another format.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has issued a rallying cry to his Rangers players this week

Rangers’ captain then, the iconic John Greig, figures heavily in Van Bronckhorst’s own Ibrox script. Greig was both press officer and confidante for manager Dick Advocaat when Van Bronckhorst first signed as a player in the summer of 1998.

Now honorary life president, and a regular fixture in the directors’ box, the 79-year-old remains a figurehead greatly admired by the current Rangers boss. He sees an embodiment of what it means to represent the club.

With James Tavernier looking to follow in Greig’s footsteps in Wednesday night’s Europa League final, Van Bronckhorst feels there is real merit in all of his squad appreciating the achievement of those who went before them. And in understanding how much their lives could change.

‘John is telling that story every day,’ laughed Van Bronckhorst. ‘No, it’s good to have. I love having John Greig around because he is a true legend. In my first years as a player here, we had a really good head of communications then!

‘It was really nice to have him around, but I think it’s also very important for the players to hear those stories, of the influence and experience they had and what it meant to them.

Rangers’ only continental triumph came in the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup

‘That’s very important because this club is all about history.

‘I also told my players that we have two big finals and the final in Seville will give them a chance to be in the history books of this club.

‘Then, the stories they will tell in 10, 20 or 30 years will be the same stories that all the players from ’72 will tell to mine.’

Eintracht Frankfurt stand in Rangers’ way. The Ibrox side have already beaten higher-rated Bundesliga opposition in Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, but that guarantees nothing over 90 minutes played under the highest pressure — not to mention sweltering heat.

At least Van Bronckhorst knows the terrain extremely well. As a player, finals of the Champions League and World Cup figured on his CV.

He won the former of those during four seasons with Barcelona, a period in which he worked under Frank Rijkaard. His fellow Dutchman’s methodical yet inspiring method of preparing players for a huge occasion is the nearest parallel to how Van Bronckhorst has sought to approach Seville.

‘I was privileged to train under some really good coaches,’ he reflected. ‘I think the final I played with Barcelona in 2006, when we won the Champions League, we had Frank Rijkaard as coach.

James Tavernier is looking to follow in John Greig’s footsteps in the Europa League final

‘As a character and the way I work, I think I’m closest to his manners and the way he approached games.

‘I always had a good feeling with him because he used the strength of the team. He always made us feel like we were special and able to achieve great things. With him, I had a really good relationship.

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‘Louis van Gaal was another coach I had with the Dutch team. As a coach in general, he is one of the best. And Dick Advocaat was a coach I had with both Rangers and the Dutch team.

‘You learn from every coach you have and I’m still learning. As a player, I was still learning at 34 or 35 and, as a coach, you never stop learning, improving yourself and getting new ideas.

‘So it’s an ongoing process. I’m really enjoying it at the moment.’

While a defence of the Premiership title began to fade after the winter break, the night of February 17 proved a pivotal point in terms of continental ambition.

Defeating Dortmund 4-2 in their own stadium — with a display of real quality — altered perceptions about what might be possible.

Thousands of Rangers fans have already made the journey to Spain for Wednesday’s final

‘Of course, if you play against a really strong opponent — Dortmund at that time were favourites to win the Europa League — and you give a performance like that, it’s good for confidence and your belief in your strength as a team,’ reflected Van Bronckhorst.

‘We stayed really humble and respected the opponent and made sure we did everything we could to win against every team we played.

‘That’s one of the strengths of this team. I’m really happy with that. Frankfurt will be the same.

‘We won’t change our approach. We won’t change anything in addressing all the tactics. The preparations will be the same as when we played before.

‘Frankfurt are a Bundesliga team and a very strong team, physically good, well organised and very fast in transitions. We also saw when we played against Leipzig.

‘They have had great results, and the results they had in Europe will also give them confidence — beating Barcelona and West Ham is a great achievement for them.

‘We are watching all the games they have played so far. In the end, we will make a plan to try to be victorious against Eintracht.’




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