'That will be the result': Ridvan Yilmaz makes bold Rangers claim and opens up on Tugay

Ridvan Yilmaz made his Rangers debut as a Champions League substitute and boldly believes his new team-mates can return him to the group stage for a second consecutive year.

Rangers have not qualified for the group stage in 12 years and their hopes of ending that absence now rest on Ibrox and overturning a two-goal deficit incurred in Belgium against Union Saint-Gilloise on Tuesday night.

The Turkish international played in last year’s competition with Besiktas and knows what it takes to succeed at European football’s top table – and has seen enough to believe with an extra effort at Ibrox, Rangers can reach it too.

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"It is quite an important match both for fans and for the club,” he said as he undertook media duties with his new team for the first time. “I think we have the ability and capabilities to join the Champions League and I think that will be the result.

"Besiktas did not have a very good group stage last year and I played in two matches. I think that once you reach the Champions League, that the players should double their performances as the Champions League is quite a difficult competition where the teams are quite challenging. You have to double your performances and try to do better.”

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The prospect of Champions League football played a big part in the left-back’s move to Ibrox – a switch he hopes could one day lead to realising a dream to play in the English Premier League. Rangers used some of the money recouped from Joe Aribo’s sale to Southampton and Calvin Bassey to Ajax by investing in Yilmaz, widely regarded as an up-and-coming prospect of European football. They went head-to-head with Europa League Final foes Eintracht Frankfurt for his signature too, a couple of months after the sides met in Seville – with a different outcome.

"I felt valuable,” the 21-year-old said. “Of course I wanted the best for myself and, in the end, that was Rangers. I’m really happy about the end result. I’m proud to be at Rangers,” he said.

Union's Dante Vanzeir, Union's Simon Adingra and Union's Teddy Teuma combined to give the Belgian side a 2-0 lead to take to Ibrox next week. (Photo by BRUNO FAHY/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Progression like the departed pair was another lure of a move to Ibrox, as was working with Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The manager’s former Rangers team-mate Tugay Kerimoglu prepared his fellow countryman for making the identical journey from Istanbul to Ibrox as he did in 2000 en route to the English top flight.

“He told me that Rangers is a big club and a historic club and that Rangers would support me along the way. This was really important for me.

“I think that the best advice he gave me was he told me I could improve myself in terms of football, in terms of language and in terms of strength. He also added that Rangers fans and the club is quite passionate and that was also quite important.

"I have felt the history, the cultural atmosphere in the stadium. It’s quite old and quite magical. I played at a big club in Turkey. I’m playing at a big club here in Scotland. And I am going to enjoy this,” Yilmaz said.

Ridvan Yilmaz played for Besiktas in last year's Champions League where the Turkish side faced Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
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“What I want to do right now is to move Rangers into the Champions League, to finish the domestic league in a good position and to win more cups.

“Also, I would like to go to bigger clubs [in future].

He added: “I don’t know how many players they sold before me, but I know they sold [Bassey] who used to play in my place and this is very important for Rangers. Hopefully I will be one of those players who isn’t sold for a long time, but when I do leave the club, I leave them a lot of money.”

As well as a bold prediction over the Champions League turnaround, Yilmaz believes he can help improve Rangers too, and quickly.

“I believe my mentality, my speed and my technique is good. When these are reflected in the game, these will help increase the quality of our game,” he said. "Before I came I did all my pre-season and didn't miss any sessions. Since I arrived I have attended all my training and my coaches have seen I feel quite fit as well."



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