HAVING featured for some of the most technically gifted teams ever to have played the game, when Ronald de Boer talks about football, you simply have to sit up and listen.
From Louis van Gaal’s Champions League-winning Ajax side in 1995, to winning La Liga with Barcelona in 1999 and then playing in the superb Netherlands team of the late 1990s and early 2000s, he’s been a part of some simply fabulous sides.
His decision to join Rangers while still at the peak of his powers in 2000 was a major coup, and he went on to enjoy four trophy-laden seasons in Glasgow firstly under Dick Advocaat and then Alex McLeish.
To this day, he still keeps a keen eye on the Light Blues’ fortunes, and having watched last month’s Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic, he was thrilled with how Mark Warburton’s class of 2016 went about their business.
“I was so impressed with how Rangers played, especially the first half,” the Holland legend explained.
“From the back too with [Danny] Wilson and [Rob] Kiernan, they were excellent. They never panicked and always gave the ball into feet. You need players who can dribble, but you also need players who can run box to box. Rangers have decent technical ability and I really enjoyed how they played.”
De Boer was at the National Stadium this morning promoting Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final with Hibernian, and victory in that match will see Rangers qualify for next season’s Europa League.
It’s a stage the Dutchman believes his former club should always be competing at, and he also reckons their style of football is ideally suited to European football.
He continued: “If you really want to have success, particularly in Europe, then you have to play this ‘modern game.’ What I saw against Celtic was the ‘modern game’ –and it’s also so much about people running off the ball, not only on the ball.
“You are back in the Premiership, but starting off with European football would be a major boost and it would be a great way to attract people over.
“Rangers were always a huge club, and now they are back, people are seeing them like that again. People all over the world still see Rangers as the Rangers they were when I was playing and also from the old days, and they should be playing European football.
“I think it’s great to see them getting back to the highest level.”
The glaring omission in de Boer’s sensational medal collection is one from either the World Cup or European Championships, with a reason for that perhaps being a lack of harmony within the Dutch squads at major tournaments.
Another thing that has impressed him about Rangers however is the spirit in the squad, and tied to that is the bond the current crop of players have with the club’s supporters.
He added: “What you see at Rangers is a team. The fans love how they play – and the football is so exciting.
“It’s really important for the fans to have an identity with the players, and I think that’s what’s happening.
“They love the young boys coming through, and the team spirit they have is so important.
“Players win games, but teams win championships.”