Rangers Legends return will be the calm before the storm at Ibrox for Giovanni van Bronckhorst

For 90 minutes on Saturday – or for however long his now 47-year-old legs will permit – Giovanni van Bronckhorst will enjoy a carefree return to the Ibrox pitch.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst pictured during his appearance for Rangers Legends against AC Milan at Ibrox in 2012. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group).
Giovanni van Bronckhorst pictured during his appearance for Rangers Legends against AC Milan at Ibrox in 2012. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group).

The laughs and jokes he will no doubt share with former team-mates such as Michael Mols, Jorg Albertz and Barry Ferguson as they line up for a Rangers Legends side against a World Legends team to celebrate his club’s 150th anniversary will be in sharp contrast to the serious business van Bronckhorst will engage in when he is back prowling the edge of the home technical area at the stadium eight days later.

Ahead of a seismic final two months of the season for the Rangers manager, which begins with what is realistically a must-win Old Firm Premiership showdown at home to Celtic on April 3, he will certainly savour the more light-hearted diversion which his club’s 150th anniversary celebration match on Saturday provides.

Whatever the rest of the campaign holds in store for van Bronckhorst as his team pursue success in three competitions at home and in Europe, he is at the helm of a club in a far more upbeat set of circumstances than the last time he pulled on a Rangers jersey.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (left) celebrates with Brian Laudrup, Ally McCoist and Ronald de Boer after setting up the only goal of the game for Rangers Legends - scored by McCoist - against AC Milan Glorie at Ibrox in March 2012. (Photo by Craig Watson/SNS Group).

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Back in March 2012, van Bronckhorst was part of a Rangers Legends side who played AC Milan Glorie at Ibrox. The charity match had been arranged before Craig Whyte plunged Rangers into administration the previous month.

On a Friday night, a remarkable crowd of 47,521 were in attendance to witness van Bronckhorst whip over a cross from the left for then Rangers manager Ally McCoist to head home the only goal of the contest. McCoist, of course, would subsequently see his dream job turn into a nightmare as Rangers began the following season in the fourth tier of Scottish football.

The recovery from that low point in Rangers’ history was completed by van Bronckhorst’s predecessor Steven Gerrard last season with the emphatic capture of the club’s 55th top flight title. Since inheriting a four-point lead at the top of the Premiership when he replaced Gerrard in November, van Bronckhorst has seen his team slip three points behind a resurgent Celtic. With just seven games now left in the title race, the stakes simply couldn’t be any higher when the great rivals go head-to-head at Ibrox next weekend.

But before then, van Bronckhorst can enjoy stepping back onto the pitch he graced with class and verve during his three years as a Rangers player from 1998 to 2001. Of his 116 appearances in a trophy-laden spell, 52 of them came at Ibrox where van Bronckhorst only experienced defeat twice.

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“It will be an honour to run out of the Ibrox tunnel again and join some of my former teammates in this incredible match,” said van Bronckhorst.

“Playing for Rangers was one of the highlights of my career so it is always a privilege to relive that experience and to do so for a match celebrating our 150th anniversary makes it even more special.”

While van Bronckhorst lines up for a Rangers squad which also includes Paul Gascoigne, Pedro Mendes and Nikica Jelavic, the World Legends side will be led by Portuguese superstar Luis Figo who is joined by the likes of Kaka, Gheorghe Hagi and Claude Makelele.

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