JOINING a Scottish Championship club that had just failed to win promotion and was undergoing a massive overhaul both on and off the pitch was always going to be a risk for any player.
But, so many decided that risk was worth it, and among those was James Tavernier, Rangers’ flying full-back who has enjoyed a quite remarkable campaign.
The 24 year-old has hit a fabulous 15 goals to smash the Light Blues’ record for goals scored by a defender in a single year, while for the team, it’s so far been a superb season too with the Championship title and Petrofac Training Cup already safely under lock and key.
But perhaps the biggest game of all takes place at Hampden Park this Saturday with Mark Warburton’s Rangers facing Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Final, where victory would also see the Ibrox side qualify for next year’s Europa League.
Tavernier admits the prospect of European football wasn’t one he ever considered when he joined the club last summer as he reflected on what has been his best year as a professional footballer so far.
“When I first came up here, our objective was to win the league,” he explained. “But getting to the final, and the way we got to the final, is a great credit to all the staff, and having the prize of Europe at the end is something I would never have thought about when I came up here.
“The gaffer has given me a platform to perform every week. Rangers are a massive club and I needed games, and with the ambition and the possibility to take the club back to where we needed to be, it didn’t have to be sold to me.
“We don’t have one bad egg in the team, and we are all close to each other. We have a laugh, but we all work hard on the training field and we want the best for each other.
“I bought into it straight away and it’s something that has turned out to be a great story so far.”
By the time Saturday’s final comes around, Rangers will have had a near three-week break between their last Championship match with St Mirren and their clash with Hibernian.
Tavernier was asked if the break would have diminished his side’s motivation for the game, but he was quick to dismiss that theory.
He added: “You just have to say to yourself that you’ll be playing in the Scottish Cup Final, and those words should put you straight up there and get you motivated straight away.
“You’re playing at Hampden and the prize is massive, so I don’t think we’ll need any encouragement from anywhere else.
“All the boys are already raring to go and cannot wait for it. You want the game to come tomorrow, but it’s been good in the sense that it’s given everyone a chance to recover from the season and the associated knocks the boys have taken.
“It’s going to look from an outsider’s point of view like a good contest, but no matter who we had in the final, we were always going to concentrate on ourselves.
“That’s not going to change, and we’re going to be fresh and ready come Saturday.”
Season ticket renewal forms have been posted to all season ticket holders and there are four easy ways to renew for 2016/2017: