Already, though, the spirit of the club’s most colossal figure appears to be coursing through the veins of the keeper with the 30-year-old revealing his immersion in the Ibrox club’s history has made him a believer in Rangers’ ultimate footballing deity, the great Bill Struth. A man who claimed 30 major honours in helming the club for more than 30 years from the 1920s. Butland surprisingly demonstrated his adherence to Struthian philosophy when assessing the state of play in the club’s Champions League play-off tie with PSV Eindhoven after the first leg 2-2 draw at the Govan ground on Tuesday in a tumult he declared made for “one of the best” atmospheres he had experienced. The outcome heaps pressure on the Dutch, now regarded firm favourites to progress to the group stage, thanks to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Rangers spinning that same scoreline into Champions League gold a year ago by digging out a 1-0 win in the Philips Stadion return.
Most consider it unlikely history will repeat itself in the Netherlands next Wednesday with Michael Beale in the process integrating nine new players into his set-up. Struth was a man to fly in the face of defeatism, as evidenced by the aphorism - one of many that have lived on - in which he said: "I am never happier than when the outside world has us beaten before a ball is kicked - for then I know the true greatness of our club will be revealed." The Rangers keeper asserts the defiance therein expressed will be a guiding light for Beale’s side next week. “People like to write Rangers off. The great Mr Struth said that himself,” said the former Manchester United keeper. “People write us off, they forget we’re Rangers. If people want to write us off, if they want to call them favourites, so be it. But we’re looking forward to the tie.”
Struth and his inspirational bon mots are never far from the minds of those who represent his beloved club on the pitch. The corridors they traverse shrines to his motivational mastery. ‘We walk past [one of his quotes] every day at the training ground, we walk past [one] at the stadium. I’ve looked into [him]. Of course, when I signed I looked into the history but this is a quote we walk past every day. The manager showed it to us again on Tuesday. It’s something people expect of us, but people also like to write us off. So do that if you will.
“You can’t get away from [the history] here. No matter where you walk in the building, at the training ground, there are pictures of cup final wins, league wins, European nights. The trophy room. You can’t get away from winning at Rangers so for us it’s a constant with the club. The point of being here, and why I want to be here, is to be a part of that history and to win as well. You can’t get away from it. And you feel it. The reason why the atmosphere is like it was on Tuesday night is because they have been there and done it before. They know what it’s like and they know how special it is to get in the Champions League and to get to European finals. Hopefully we can do just that.”