ON THIS DAY in 1962 Rangers legend Richard Gough was born in Sweden and today marks the Global Ambassador’s 56th Birthday.
If there was one man who epitomised the effort, drive and skill which led Rangers to nine successive championships during the 80s and 90s it was Gough.
Captain and a great leader of men, Gough was one of only three players to appear in all nine campaigns – Ally McCoist and Ian Ferguson were the others – and he alone received winners’ medals for all nine Championships.
The distinction marks him out as unique, but he was that sort of leader. An accomplished player, he was an excellent timer of a tackle. He also had a fine touch, which made him a careful distributor of the ball once possession was won, and he was commanding in the air.
But it was his calm authority under pressure, a refusal to panic, which transmitted confidence to those around him that made him not only a hugely successful captain but also one of the greatest.
Everyone respected Gough, an articulate man who understood the fans’ passion and conducted himself with great dignity.
Gough was born in Stockholm but brought up in South Africa. His mother was Swedish and his father, a Scot, had played for Charlton Athletic in the 1960s, so football was in his blood.
Rangers actually let Gough slip through their fingers when he was 18, he came to Ibrox for a trial but didn’t impress and Rangers let him go. He was taken on by Dundee United and actually played alongside his future boss Walter Smith in the reserves.
It was Graeme Souness who persuaded Spurs to part with him and he became Rangers’ first million pound man when his signature cost £1.1 million in the autumn of 1987.
Gough made his league debut at right back against Dundee United and became an instant hit when, in his second game, he scored in the 2-2 draw with Celtic.
Throughout the famous nine in a row charge, Gough was a constant source of inspiration and leadership, especially after he replaced Terry Butcher as captain in 1990.
Gough had let it be known that at the end of the 1996-97 season he would be leaving for America to play for Kansas City Wizards.
As the crescendo began to build, Gough scored in the 2-0 victory over Celtic at Ibrox in September.
The momentum was maintained with Gough’s sixth League Cup Final victory, this time 4-3 over Hearts. But as the season reached its climax at Tannadice in the Spring, Gough was missing through injury as Brian Laudrup scored the goal that gave Rangers Nine-In-A-Row.
Gough was clearly overcome with emotion as he went on to the pitch to receive the trophy in what he believed would be his last act as a Rangers’ player. But by October 1997 he was back and played in 24 League games in his final season.
He returned to America to play for San Jose Clash, but in March 1999 agreed to join English Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest in their fight against relegation and then moved to Everton where he played until he was 40.