BRIAN LAUDRUP: Rangers’ presence in the Europa League final is a victory for smaller leagues

I am on my way. Destination Seville. And what an occasion it’s going to be. Watching Rangers in a European final is something I’ll surely remember for the rest of my life.

My son, Nicolai, will be with me. As with so many supporters and former players, this is special to our family. We had to be there, we just had to.

I’m in the very fortunate position of having two tickets for the match. After numerous phone calls, an old contact of mine — not within Rangers — managed to help me out. I’ll be flying into Malaga on Wednesday morning and meeting Nicolai. He has been in Portugal recently and was actually supposed to be heading back to Denmark.

I can’t wait to get to Seville and watch Rangers take on Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday night

But as soon as the final whistle went in that epic semi-final second-leg win over RB Leipzig, my phone started ringing. ‘Dad, can you create a wee miracle and get tickets? Let’s go to Seville.’ I didn’t need any persuasion.

We’ll drive the two-and-a-half hours from Malaga and then stay in Seville on the night of the match. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a beer and celebrate. This Rangers team has every chance of doing it.

As everyone knows, I had four years at Ibrox and left back in 1998. But the club has stayed with me since.

Almost a quarter of a century later, weeks like this one remind you of just how much it means. To me, my family and hundreds of thousands of people. There’s a sense of belonging in that.

Nicolai was six years old when I first joined Rangers. He spent important time growing up in Scotland and went back when he was 16 to work for Satty Singh — the restaurant owner who is a great friend of ours and a massive Rangers fan.

Weeks like this remind you of just how much the success of the club means to so many people

Satty also had a golf academy at the time. Nicolai was a very keen and talented golfer so he worked in that business, staying for six months and living with another friend from Denmark. He would go to Rangers games then. And he loved it. He came home with a Scottish accent in place.

Even now, with our family business in gin and rosé wine, Nicolai is back and forth quite a lot. He’s a Scottish soul in some respects so, really, this final is a dream come true for him as well as me.

We’ll be there in Seville with so many other fans. But I also know that Rangers will have a lot of support back in Denmark and in other countries.

Because, really, their presence in the final is already a victory for the smaller European leagues — proof that excellence can exist outside the big five nations.

Honestly, I got so many text messages from people after they saw Rangers had made it through. They were talking about where the club was ten years ago and where it is right now. It’s fairytale stuff, it really is. 

There is so much talk across Europe about the English Premier League and the riches in that competition. The Scottish Premiership doesn’t get too much attention because the big, wealthy neighbour dominates.

The run to the final will give a lot of players the idea that playing in Scotland is not so bad at all

People will be paying notice now. This means so much to Rangers and to the Scottish game. It will give a lot of players the idea that playing there is not so bad at all.

It’s also a final between two real, traditional clubs with huge supports. It’s not something that has been created by a big company, like the RB Leipzig stuff.

Eintracht Frankfurt have joined Rangers in outstripping all expectations. In many ways, this actually feels like a throwback to a past age when European football was a lot more open.

It’s an antidote to the Super League talk, when it seemed as though the drawbridge might get pulled up on Rangers, Frankfurt and everyone else who wasn’t regarded as having an immense TV appeal. Football must always be about competition and opportunity. This season’s Europa League has shown that.

It’s now led to this. And you have to say that playing Frankfurt is as good a chance as Rangers could get to win a first European trophy in 50 years.

Oliver Glasner’s team have been quite mediocre in the Bundesliga and put all their attentions on the Europa League. They have been sensational in this environment, beating Barcelona and West Ham to make the final.

Frankfurt have been average in the Bundesliga, despite their superb Europa League campaign

Really, though, Rangers have already beaten two better teams in Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig. That doesn’t necessarily make the final any easier but, to me, it’s a 50-50 match-up at worst.

I actually remember working for Danish television covering the Europa League last season. After the final, we had a discussion in the studio about who might make a real impact in this season’s competition.

I highlighted Rangers and said that after reaching the last 16 for two successive years, they could go one or two steps further if they kept their squad together.

When Steven Gerrard then left last November, it was difficult to try and argue that Rangers would have the continuity to go all the way to the final.

But they are there and they deserve it 100 per cent. Absolutely no question about that. Giovanni van Bronckhorst has done an outstanding job — simply brilliant.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has done an outstanding job and now he has a huge opportunity

What an opportunity now lies before his players. It’s one so few footballers ever receive.

When I was 21, I missed out on a European Cup final with Bayern Munich because of a goal in the very last minute of the semi-final.

Three years later, I made a number of appearances for AC Milan on their run to winning the Champions League but wasn’t picked as a part of the squad for the final due to the three-foreigner rule. I had to sit in the stand and watch.

So many players with huge CVs don’t have a European club final to remember. This Ibrox squad will have. But they want the trophy, too.

All I would say is don’t let this 90 minutes pass you by. Enjoy it, but do everything in your power to win and you will be legends forever at Rangers Football Club. Good luck.

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