Rangers title-winning captain James Tavernier reflects on past criticism and declares: 'We finally brought 55 home'

Twelve months ago James Tavernier was the focal point for much of the anger among the Rangers supporters after a title campaign that collapsed following defeats to Hearts and Hamilton.

Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates winning the league at the club's Auchenhowie training base. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Rangers captain James Tavernier celebrates winning the league at the club's Auchenhowie training base. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The Rangers captain was pilloried for high-profile mistakes which left many fans and pundits questioning his suitability to continue leading the Ibrox side, and prompted Steven Gerrard to hold showdown talks with the 29-year-old.

Those doubts have been blown away this season with Tavernier staking a claim for Scotland's player of the year after a campaign in which he has not only been part of a record-breaking defence which has conceded just nine goals in 28 league matches, but also pitched in with 17 goals and 15 assists.

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It is a story of redemption that the Englishman has played such a leading role in delivering the club’s long-awaited 55th league title.

"I'm still absorbing it," Tavernier told Rangers TV. "All the criticism I received over five years and all the comments from pundits, but people have stuck by me, my family has stuck by me. It's really helped me push.

"I know where this club needs to be and when I first came here I wanted to put this club where it belonged. It took longer than I expected but I couldn't have asked for a better season from the boys and what they've done, and everything added on to what it is.

"We've finally brought 55 back home to the club and it's such an amazing feeling. Everyone is enjoying themselves, which is only right, and I'm sure the fans are at home now absolutely loving it.

"There's no words that can describe it. I'm absolutely delighted for the club, the fans, the players, for everyone involved, especially the fans. They've been in the dumps for a long time and have experienced such a rollercoaster since I first came here. To do it this year and everything surrounding this season, it's monumental.

“We were unlucky not to get the [Betfred Cup] result at St Mirren – that's the only thing you can look on this season. But other than that the boys have been terrific. I'm just so proud of them. They've done a terrific job for the club and it's amazing to see.”

Tavernier and the rest of the Rangers squad watched Celtic's goalless draw with Dundee United at Tannadice which confirmed the Ibrox side as champions from the club's training base in Auchenhowie.

It continued the celebrations which kicked off after the 3-0 win over St Mirren at Ibrox on Saturday but the skipper insisted that the players will refocus for the challenges ahead, starting with the trip to Sparta Prague in the Europa League last 16 first leg on Thursday.

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"We've got to soak up today and really enjoy this moment but we've got a really important game coming up Thursday over two legs to try and get into the next round," he said.

"We've got possibilities of doing that if we apply ourselves right, which we normally can, and we've got a [Scottish] cup to play in. We obviously want to keep strong in the league. We're not going to take the foot off the gas because we've won it. We want to finish the season strong and really put a marker down."

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