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
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.