RICHARD GOUGH played against some of the best players in world football during his years at Rangers but the Nine in a Row captain insists the best club side he faced was Olympique Marseille in 1992/93.
Walter Smith’s men qualified for the first Champions League group stage having beaten Lyngby and Leeds United and in Group A of the revamped European Cup they were drawn with CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge and Marseille.
At that time Rangers were a formidable force and against the star-studded French champions they showed their battling qualities to secure a point both at home and away.
On 25 November 1992 stunning late headers from Mark Hateley and Gary Swegan sent Ibrox wild after Marseille had hit the net twice with the brilliant Alen Boksic and Rudi Voller beating Andy Goram.
The sides then met again in April in their penultimate group game and after Franck Sauzee had scored in front of 41,642 fans in the Stade Velodrome, Ian Durrant’s curling half volley in the 52nd minute made it 1-1.
If Rangers had bagged a winning goal that night the club would have progressed to the Champions League final that season, but it sadly wasn’t to be.
Gough, however, still has vivid memories from those meetings against Marseille during Rangers’ unforgettable Treble-winning domestic campaign, and he is looking forward to seeing the Ligue 1 club returning to Ibrox this weekend for a glamour friendly.
He said: “It’s an unexpected fixture because we were obviously hoping to be in Europe, but Marseille bring back good memories for me.
25 years ago we played them and we were both probably at the top of our powers so to speak.
“So yeah it will be an interesting game on Saturday but it’s a pre-season friendly for them as well as ourselves with the season still three weeks away. It will be a good run-out for the boys.”
On the games in 1992/93, he continued: “Well the first one I think I tried to stop Alen Boksic running into our box and he’s kneed me, given me Charley horse, right in the thigh.
“I came off just around half-time but I can remember Gary McSwegan scoring a goal and getting us back into it at 2-2, which to be fair was a great result because we went two-nil down.
“It was a great result, coming back to what I always term as the best club side that I ever played against during my period at the club.
They were a fantastic team at that time and they showed that by going on to the final and winning it that year.
“But then we had a chance in the Velodrome when we went over there. We went down to a Sauzee goal and Durranty then hit a screamer from a corner.
“We had a couple of chances that would maybe have had put us through to the final because whoever won that game went through to the final.
“It had to go to the last game, so we did ourselves proud in that campaign and that wasn’t always the case in the European campaigns of that era.
“But Marseille had good players all over the place; they had Voller at his peak, Abedi Pele and Alen Boksic at the time.
“They were a real good outfit with Desailly the captain in the middle of the park, Angloma, Boli; just great players all over the field.
“It was a great team and I thought we did really well against them, maybe a hair’s breadth away from a European Cup final.”