‘I have a special bond with Rangers. It was the most beautiful period of my life’ says Dick Advocaat
But even that was not enough to convince those living in Holland about the quality on offer in Scotland.
Advocaat, however, is in no doubt about how good a side his new team will be up against when they host Steven Gerrard’s current Rangers side at De Kuip tonight.
A win in Rotterdam would put Rangers on the verge of the Europa League’s last 32.
And Advocaat – who also led Zenit St Petersburg to Uefa Cup glory over his old side in 2008 – insists Rangers as a club and team have his full respect.
The 72-year-old said: “It is a cracking game, I am looking forward to it so much, it will be a great game.
“I have a special bond with Rangers. I was there for four years and I can now tell you that it was the most beautiful period of my life, really something special. People think the Dutch competition is better but for me Scotland, Turkey and Russia as well, they have more tools, more finances, than most of the clubs in Holland.
“In Holland they still underestimate Scottish football a little but Celtic and Rangers are those European top clubs. I saw some games from them and they are really close to the level they want.
“Rangers are a strong team, with international players in almost every position. With a manager like Steven Gerrard he was a very famous player and has a big network, he is maybe able to bring in that extra player which they would maybe not have done in the past.
“For the players and the media who have been at Rangers, you realise what a massive club it is.
“Why is it such a special club? Because there is an admiration and an adoration for players and manager. It was by far the most beautiful time of my career. When you are there, you are really somebody, people want you to have that Rangers badge on your blazer.
“The club has style, Rangers has style and there is a love for the club from the fans which makes you are aware, it makes something happen to you, your mind, your body. It goes for everyone right up to the lady in the washing department.”
Gers have already beaten Feyenoord – then managed by Jaap Stam – in their Group G opener but Advocaat has warned it will not be the same side welcoming Rangers to De Kuip.
He said: “Rangers showed in the first match how good they were as it was the home team that dictated the game. But away and at home, there is a difference, and that applies to Rangers.
“In that game it was only one game, and I didn’t see Feyenoord. Tomorrow night we have to do it differently. We have to show what we want and we have a very fanatical crowd here, the same as Ibrox. We need those supporters to make us give them a surprise.
“I am quite confident but in that evening [when he was in charge of Zenit in 2008] I was more confident. A surprise is always possible.”