It has been a season that may reside lengthy within the reminiscences of Rangers followers and there are a lot of candidates to the Scottish Premiership participant of the season.
However there’s one which maybe stands out a bit greater than the others – James Tavernier.
Steven Gerrard has cemented himself into Rangers folklore by successful the membership’s 55th league title – and it’s a vastly vital one.
It stopped arch rivals Celtic reaching ten in a row – one thing that’s by no means been completed earlier than in Scottish soccer. Each Outdated Agency golf equipment have received 9 consecutive titles however ten stays elusive.
It additionally rubberstamps Rangers’ return from the wilderness that noticed them kicked out of the top-flight and need to work their approach again up from the fourth tier.
Sunday’s Outdated Agency derby at Celtic Park will likely be one among celebration for Rangers – though there’ll nonetheless be an absence of followers, that means the hostile ambiance is just not what it might often be.
There have been many stars among the many Gers’ ranks this season, from Ryan Kent to Alfredo Morelos and Allan McGregor.
Tavernier, although, maybe deserves particular recognition for various causes.
He’s been on the membership since 2015 – once they have been within the Championship – and scored 15 targets from right-back that season.
The 29-year-old has been a loyal servant to the membership during the last six campaigns, taking the captain’s armband.
He’s racked up 284 appearances and scored an unbelievable 63 instances.
Tavernier has discovered sustained success beneath Gerrard and this season has been a classic one.
Within the Scottish Premiership alone, he’s scored 11 instances and added 9 assists in 29 appearances. Not unhealthy a for a right-back, eh?
Extra targets within the Scottish Cup and the Europa League have made it a improbable season for Tavernier that has earned him lofty comparisons.
He’s admitted to modelling his recreation on Marcelo and Dani Alves and has even been likened to the latter.
Talking on the finish of final 12 months, Owen Hargreaves mentioned of his report: “Unbelievable, I feel Dani Alves could be pleased with these numbers – 15 targets and 10 assists.”
These numbers would seemingly be greater if a niggling harm drawback hadn’t saved him out of the facet for the final month.
He’s working his approach again to full health and might not be prepared for the Outdated Agency derby, however that isn’t to reduce his achievements this season.
Commentator Clive Tyldesley has seen numerous Tavernier this season whereas working for Rangers TV and he thinks he’s greater than deserving of being topped Scotland’s finest participant.
He advised talkSPORT.com: “There are a number of candidates, what maybe lifts James Tavernier’s claims to such an award over and above everybody else’s is; one – he’s worn the captain’s armband and there’s an enormous duty that goes with that.
“One of many first issues I grew to become conscious of after I began travelling as much as Glasgow was simply how large ten in a row was this season.
“Nearly a shadow that was hanging over the Scottish Premiership as neither of the Outdated Agency golf equipment had managed to win ten titles in a row.
“There was a large quantity of strain on Rangers to go the space. They went half the space the earlier season and pale, Celtic claimed their ninth title.
“Captaining Rangers was an enormous duty.
“The second factor to say about James Tavernier is that he’s come all the way in which with them. He got here on that journey that the membership has take via some fairly darkish days in current instances.
“James Tavernier was a part of the promotion workforce and at 29 years of age, he’s now beginning to strategy the autumn of his profession and it’s blossoming in essentially the most fantastic season.
“The numbers are extraordinary, there have been numerous penalties and free-kicks, together with some actually good free-kicks.
“He’s truly scored shut vary targets too, poachers targets.
“When you have a look at Rangers’ model of play that’s been long-established by Steven Gerrard, it’s fairly just like Liverpool at their finest.
“One of many options is that their two full-backs, Tavernier and Borna Barisic on the left, are suppliers of an terrible lot of their possibilities. Each go ahead, each are actually good crossers of the ball.
“In getting ahead to create possibilities, Tavernier is discovering himself in goalscoring positions.
“He’s been a bit unfortunate in that he’s been injured in the previous couple of weeks, in any other case he’d be breaking all types of data.”
The final man to carry a league title for Rangers was David Weir, and he was filled with reward for the defender after surviving the lows of his Ibrox profession.
Weir mentioned: “I’m genuinely happy for James Tavernier as a result of he has been via all of it from begin to end.
“There’s been an actual vary of feelings there.
“With the character of Scottish soccer and the noise all spherical about it, you’re judged harshly typically. And typically in a short time.
“You recognize what it’s like.
“Even when Steven Davis got here again up from Southampton, individuals have been saying, ‘He doesn’t look the identical participant, he’s not the man to do it’.
“Being a footballer in Glasgow isn’t a simple life. Enjoying for Rangers could be onerous. Tavernier has ridden that out.
“Individuals like him are profitable as a result of they’ll handle that and exit and do it on the pitch, the place it must be completed.
“Tavernier has not over-reacted to issues which have occurred. He’s simply completed his job and hopefully he will get the rewards for all of it quickly.”
Tavernier’s path to the highest has not been a totally simple one.
Born in Bradford, he was a Leeds fan rising up and joined their academy aged 9.
He spent seven years with the Whites earlier than exiting at 16, however his love of the membership has continued.
Tavernier was even congratulated by Leeds and South Africa legend Lucas Radabe following Rangers’ title win.
The Bradford-born defender posted a screenshot of the decision, with the caption: “Some of the memorable nights I’ll always remember. Then my boy Bongani Zungu stunning me with a name to my hero Lucas Radebe. Probably the greatest days of my life. MOT.”
Tavernier confirmed his help for the membership following their promotion to the Premier League final summer time, posting ‘Marching on Collectively’ on his Twitter account.
He has beforehand spoken of his love for his boyhood membership, revealing it was tough to look at brother Marcus play for Middlesbrough in opposition to the Whites at Elland Street.
He mentioned: “I went down to look at him play in opposition to Leeds, however that was a little bit of a tough one for me as a result of I’m a Leeds fan and was sitting within the Leeds finish!
“After I advised Marcus I used to be going within the Leeds finish I feel he anticipated it as a result of he is aware of what I’m like with Leeds. My mum wasn’t within the away finish at Elland Street both as she’s a Leeds fan too.”
After leaving Leeds as a teen, he went on to affix Newcastle in 2008 and his debut got here in 2009, however a number of mortgage spells quickly adopted.
The appropriate-back was loaned out six instances – to at least one Nationwide League facet and 5 League One groups.
Newcastle didn’t imagine he’d make the grade on the high degree, and Wigan signed him for an undisclosed price in 2014.
He didn’t final lengthy with the Latics – simply 11 video games – earlier than he was loaned out of Bristol City for the second half of the 2014/15 season.
Rangers noticed one thing in him and got here calling in 2015 and swooped to take him north of the border for a mere £200,000.
That has proved to be one among their finest investments in years.
Taviernier hasn’t had it straightforward and confronted robust criticism in his early time at Ibrox.
However he’s now cemented himself as a favorite with the followers and, almost 300 appearances later, he’s led them to the Scottish Premiership to lastly finish Celtic’s dominance.