Ryan Kent reflects on Rangers Europa League journey and pinpoints key clash on run to Seville

·3-min read
Ryan Kent of Rangers battles for possession with Konrad Laimer of RB Leipzig during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg Two match between Rangers and RB Leipzig
Ryan Kent of Rangers battles for possession with Konrad Laimer of RB Leipzig during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg Two match between Rangers and RB Leipzig

RYAN KENT has been with Rangers on almost every step of their Europa League journey over the last four seasons.

Now he will stride into Seville with the confidence that the silverware can be collected as Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side set their sights on a historic win next Wednesday.

Kent made his debut for Steven Gerrard's side in the second round qualifier with Osijek four years ago and has been a mainstay of the squad ever since.

He has seen Porto and Borussia Dortmund beaten, has savoured memorable nights against Legia Warsaw and Braga at Ibrox as Rangers have punched above their weight on the continent.

The win over RB Leipzig last week was the best of all. If Eintracht Frankfurt are beaten in the final, a new high, the ultimate high, will have been reached.

Kent said: "On a personal level, it's something I've always strived for in my career to get to the top and it's an opportunity now we are relishing.

"Yeah, without a doubt [it is the biggest game of my career]. For everyone in the team it's the biggest game of their career.

"I don't think we will let the occasion get the better of us. We know what's ahead but without a doubt it's the biggest game.

"We will go into the game with the same mindset that we've had in other games. We have come up against some top-class opposition and nothing changes going into the final.

"We are confident. We have been confident throughout the tournament. When you have defeated great teams... without being naive we are going there to win that's for sure but we won't get ahead of ourselves.

"I was overjoyed with all sorts of emotions [after the Leipzig game]. This has been a journey this team has been on for four years since we beat Ufa to get into the competition and that journey has been a beautiful struggle.

"Each year we have wanted to get further than the previous year and this year we have managed to get to the final."

The seasons under Gerrard's guidance saw Rangers restore their reputation in Europe and become a force to be reckoned with as the team grew in confidence and stature.

Recent months have been even more remarkable, though, and Van Bronckhorst has achieved the seemingly impossible by taking his side all the way to Seville.

Rangers will not get ahead of themselves now that Frankfurt lie in wait but anything is possible when the occasion will bring out the best in Kent and his team-mates.

Kent said: "I think in previous years there has been less pressure on these games. Not as much pressure as much as expectation.

"I don't think anybody going into this season would expect Rangers to reach the final of this competition so it's a platform we can really showcase ourselves under less pressure. That changes now going into the final - everybody is expecting us to go and win, ourselves included.

"The players came away from that [Dortmund] game asking, 'at what point can we start taking this really seriously now?'.

"We had just beaten a great team in Dortmund and that gives you the confidence to at least think you can go all the way in the tournament.

"Is it the nature of the competition in going toe to toe with teams part of what gives you confidence?

"Given that the last game against Leipzig was set up to take the game back to Ibrox, everybody was full of confidence knowing that we could reach the final if we came back with the result.

"In previous rounds, we have wanted to match ourselves up against these teams and the quality has shown.

"We have put in a huge amount of effort in terms of running on the pitch and the defensive department has been solid but going forward the amount of goals scored by this team in the competition has been pretty evident."

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