Ryan Jack backs Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side to rewrite history and update Rangers illustrious roll of honour with Europa League win

·5-min read
Ryan Jack
Ryan Jack

THEY are the numbers that tell the stories of glories past, that set the standards of today and inspire the successes of tomorrow.

One has not altered in the last fifty years. In just 90 minutes, that could all change.

The European Cup Winners' Cup triumph of 1972 remains the only time that Rangers have conquered the continent. It was third time lucky on that occasion and their last attempt 14 years ago ended in heartache in Manchester.

In Seville this evening, history could be written and the murals at Ibrox and Auchenhowie that proudly display Rangers' illustrious roll of honour will have to be taken down and replaced. The next triumph could be the most famous of all.

Come Saturday, Rangers may well need to update their Scottish Cup collection that sits alongside the 55 league titles and 27 League Cups. That ambition can wait, though.

The focus is all on Frankfurt and the stakes are as high as the rewards. Few would have believed that Rangers would find themselves in this position again and Ryan Jack knows they must make the most of the chance to secure their place in Ibrox folklore.

"It’s got to be the case," Jack said. "Look, we are obviously delighted to be here and we’re excited.

"You can imagine the anticipation this week, leading up to the game and travelling out here. But the bigger picture is we deserve to be here.

"We’ve had a great tournament if you like. We are coming here to win and that’s the main objective.

"Even in the meeting [on Tuesday], the manager touched on that. He said we’ve got a chance as a team and a club and a staff to change the ‘1’ on the wall to a ‘2’.

"You don’t need any more motivation than to go and try and create history and be remembered at the club for a long time."

This Rangers squad is already revered for its domestic accomplishments after lifting the Premiership title last term and ending the long, agonising wait to see the silverware back at Ibrox.

That feat will always be an emotional and cherished one. Victory in Seville would turn the heroes into legends, though, as supporters prepare to bestow a unique status on Van Bronckhorst's side.

Jack was part of the side that lost to Progres Niederkorn in 2017. Nobody in the 100,000-strong travelling support that is here now could have foreseen Rangers being in this position today.

"You see the fans travelling in numbers and all sorts of routes to get here to support us," Jack said. "Obviously it is unfortunate that only some will get in the stadium but for us, we take a lot of pride in that support we get and backing we get.

"I said before we are just the lucky ones who get to play in the final, there is 100,000 people who would want to be in our position. We have to put in a good performance tomorrow night and make them proud.

"It has been a crazy journey if you like. I would have never thought that I would be sitting here speaking to you about potentially playing in a Europa League final.

"I am proud and grateful to be here and hopefully we can take the trophy home."

The journey that Jack has been on in recent times has included as many trials and tribulations off the park as on it as he has endured the most difficult period of his career.

A long-standing injury cruelly denied him a place at the European Championships with Scotland and saw the midfielder miss the final weeks of Rangers' title triumph.

His rise back to prominence this term has been remarkable. The finest moment could yet be to come for the 30-year-old.

Jack said: "It’s definitely some light at the end of the tunnel. Missing the Euros that summer was a tough moment, no doubt, but I worked hard in the off season.

"And then it took a bit longer than I thought it wasting was going to originally. It was a long journey, a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours.

"But times like this make it all the sweeter. Hopefully this is just the start of something special."

Rangers have earned their spot in Seville the hard way as German giants Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have been overcome and Red Star Belgrade and Braga beaten.

Another Bundesliga outfit now stand between them and the silverware as Frankfurt aim to cap their own memorable campaign - which includes wins against Barcelona and West Ham United - on the perfect note.

The mercury could hit almost 40 degrees Celsius inside the imposing and impressive home of Sevilla but Jack has no fears over Rangers wilting in the red hot atmosphere.

"It’s a great feeling to make it to a major European final for the club," Jack said. "We came out a day early to get used to the heat, if you like, and it’s a very hot night tonight.

"But the stadium is great, the pitch is great. It looks like everything is there for a great night.

"It’s going to be tough. We’re obviously not used to the heat and it’s going to be 30-odd degrees.

"But as players and a club we have played in hot weather many a time. This is another night when we need to take that on board and make sure we’re on top of our hydration.

"We have people in the club who can look after that and keep us right."

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