Ally McCoist has say on age and explains why he wasn't present for big Rangers win

Ally McCoist looked on in disbelief from the technical area in Bremen 14 years ago when Allan McGregor made a breathtaking save to defy Boubacar Sanogo during Rangers’ remarkable journey to the UEFA Cup Final.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 10: Rangers' goalkeeper Allan McGregor saves a penalty Red Star's Aleksandar Katai during a UEFA Europa League match between Rangers and Red Star Belgrade at Ibrox Stadium, on March 10, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 10: Rangers' goalkeeper Allan McGregor saves a penalty Red Star's Aleksandar Katai during a UEFA Europa League match between Rangers and Red Star Belgrade at Ibrox Stadium, on March 10, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

But it comes as no surprise to McCoist, who was assistant manager to Walter Smith back in 2008, that McGregor is still pulling out the stops in Europe at the age of 40 when it matters most for Rangers.

The veteran goalkeeper has not been without his critics this season with errors in domestic fixtures prompting some Rangers fans to question whether he should still be their club’s number one.

McGregor provided the perfect answer to the doubters at Ibrox on Thursday night with his brilliant one-handed penalty save from Aleksandar Katai which helped Rangers forge a 3-0 first leg lead in their Europa League last 16 tie against Red Star Belgrade.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Football legend and The National Lottery Football Weekends Ambassador, Ally McCoist visits AFC Fylde to see how National Lottery players support is helping them bounce back after COVID at Mill Farm on March 11, 2022 in Wesham, Lancashire. The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign will make over 100,000 tickets available on a 'Buy One Get One Free' basis for National Lottery players for selected matches in March and April: www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images for National Lottery)

“Allan has been a fantastic goalkeeper,” said McCoist. “It doesn’t matter it you’re a goalkeeper or a centre forward, when you have a bad game at 36 or 39 people say it’s because of your age. You can understand them saying that.

"Yeah, Allan has probably had a couple of bad moments which have been uncharacteristic this season, he has made a couple of mistakes. But I have to inform you that he still made those mistakes at 19 and 29.

"It is easy to point the finger and say: ‘It’s his age!’ I don’t believe it is. His performance on Thursday was remarkable, it really was. His big hand for the penalty save is actually unbelievable. To make the save and get the hand to it was one thing, but the ball was struck fiercely. To get the power in his hand to push it away . . . I thought it was a tremendous save.

"He carried a wee bit of luck, which you need to, with a couple of the offside decisions. But they were offside. But McGregor has been and will continue to be fantastic for Rangers.

"I still remember his incredible save against Werder Bremen in Germany on the way to the final in 2008. I couldn’t believe he saved it.

“So there are things that need to go your way. But, yeah, of course – once you get to this stage of the tournament you’ve got as good a chance as any.

“But there are still teams in the tournament you would think have a better chance of winning it than Rangers, of course there are.

“But it’s a cup competition and they have given themselves a right good chance of getting to the last eight.”

McCoist was a rare absentee from Ibrox on Thursday as he fulfilled alternative punditry duties at Elland Road.

“Much as I enjoyed Leeds-Aston Villa, I’d love to have been at Ibrox,” he admitted. “What a brilliant result and performance.

“I watched it when I got back to my hotel. The final result could have been anything”.

The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign will make over 100,000 tickets available on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ basis for National Lottery players for selected matches as a ‘thank you’ for over £12.5million of funding they helped provide to community football clubs during the Covid pandemic. To find out more visit www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk.

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