Steven Gerrard expressed his pride in Rangers’ performance on and off the pitch at Ibrox as they reached the Europa League group stage for a second successive season.
A dramatic stoppage time goal from Alfredo Morelos earned a 1-0 aggregate win over Legia Warsaw in a tense play-off tie.
Rangers were forced to leave 3,000 seats empty because of Uefa’s sanction for sectarian singing from some of their fans during the first qualifying round tie against St Joseph’s.
But on a night marred only by pyrotechnics let off by Legia Warsaw fans and some angry scenes as players from both sides clashed after the final whistle, the home support adhered to Rangers’ pleas to avoid any further unacceptable conduct.
“You saw the place at the end and there wasn’t a prouder man in the building than me,” said manager Gerrard.
“One of the reasons I took the job was the support. From the outside, I could see the pain and disappointment. I wanted to come in and help.
“It’s moments like tonight that make me feel so proud and make it feel worthwhile. I’m glad I signed up to it.
“I wanted nights like this from a personal point of view. But to see my players celebrating with the 47,000 fans at the end, it was an emotional time. I was so proud to be the manager of this club out there.”
Rangers will be in Pot 4, among the lowest seeded clubs, for today’s group stage draw in Nyon and could face English sides Manchester United, Arsenal or Wolves.
“I wouldn’t mind going and parking the bus at Old Trafford,” smiled former Liverpool captain Gerrard, who has delivered a crucial financial boost to Rangers by reaching the group stage.
“The importance of the victory is more about the club,” added Gerrard. “Our chairman Dave King went on record and said this club needs European football.
“It’s been tough trying to build a squad on the budgets available, to get over the line in these circumstances.
“So I have to pay respect to the recruitment team who work tirelessly, help me identify the players and help me to get them in here to get the job done. It’s been tough but we have built a good team. We still need to improve, we can get better and keep learning. But I’m so proud of where they are at. If they keep facing these challenges like they are and keep focused, we can have some good times together.”