In Hol­land, peo­ple still ques­tion his skills on the ball. Over there, it is im­por­tant to keep the ball and play it to a jer­sey of the same colour

The Herald - Sport - - LEAGUE CUP SEMI-FINALS -

been dif­fer­ent, but I was 28 or 29 when I came to Rangers.”

For van Dijk among oth­ers, this will be the first taste of the Glas­gow derby. And what a first taste it will be with Rangers and Celtic hav­ing gone al­most three years with­out meet­ing.

“That might be a fac­tor for a lot of play­ers,” said de Boer. “They might not un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the Old Firm fix­ture. It is up to the coach to in­form them well and pre­pare them to per­form. You must be ob­jec­tive and say that Celtic is the favourite, but that cre­ates more pres­sure.

“They will be heav­ily crit­i­cised if they don’t win be­cause they are the Premier­ship team and that is some­thing they will have to carry with them. Rangers, ba­si­cally, have noth­ing to lose. Cup games are strange and this is a once-in-a-life­time chance to make the fans happy for a long time.”

De Boer was back in Glas­gow last week­end to take part in a ben­e­fit match for ex-team-mate Fer­nando Rick­sen, now bat­tling the crip­pling ef­fects of mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease.

Rangers, of course, is a very dif­fer­ent club from the one he left be­hind in 2004. Hap­pi­ness is not a word you would com­monly as­so­ciate with their sup­port.

“I had such a great time at Rangers and it does hurt to see the club like this,” he said. “I have got so much re­spect from the sup­port­ers and the peo­ple who worked here. To see a club like that go down so badly is very sad.

“You never ex­pect a club like Rangers, a club of such mag­ni­tude, to fall down like that.

“Rangers and Celtic are spe­cial clubs and they have so many fans through­out the world. In Rangers’ case, those fans are born with a blue nose and they die with a blue nose. It is a shame that it has gone this far.

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