Is it time to consider him a Rangers legend?
Club legend is a subjective term, who you may consider a legend of your football team, might not be by fans of the same club.
Picking out players in the last the last decade at Glasgow Rangers who could be awarded the ‘legend’ status is a difficult task, when the club had spent most of that time trying to build back up to the heights of years gone past and reclaim the Scottish Premiership title. Players may not be as good as the ones who came before, but their task was entirely different; with the subject of loyalty requiring this category to be looked upon through a different lense. You cannot even compare challenging for titles year after year, with rebuilding a football club from the ground up. Both are extremely testing asks, that require differing qualities and hardships.
Coming to the end of the 21/22 season, Rangers see the likes of McGregor come to the end of his contract, and Davis sign on for what would be expected a final season. Combining for a total 818 appearances for Rangers and 23 trophies, these men are certified legends of the club.
Yet, there is another man who will walk onto the pitch at Ibrox park next season that has rightfully cemented his place in the history of this famous club; James Tavernier. Bought for 250k in the summer of 2015, scoring a freekick on his debut, and being crucial in the teams Challenge Cup win and promotion back to the Scottish top flight, after the 6 year absence.
It would have been fair to assume that like many around him, he would inevitably leave, either for a bigger move or a failure to make the grade at the top level. No one could have predicted the heights he would reach under the lights of Ibrox Park.
The Englishman will pull on the royal blue jersey and wrap the captains armband around his bicep knowing that the season past is just a memory and he will attempt to lead the squad to more glory.
There is always a discussion of what constitutes being a legend? Is it a moment in time? Appearances? Cup wins? It’s subjective to the team and when you’re a team like Rangers it’s a mixture of all of the above, and more. For example, compatriot Connor Goldson has been integral in the growth of the club and has rarely missed a game he’s been available for in his 4 years at Ibrox, but will people look back on him as a legend in years to come? Unfortunately it is not that simple.
Tavernier has been on a journey with the club that at one point would have been unimaginable for a Rangers player. Starting in the championship, 5-0 drubbings by Celtic, losing cup finals, and having to rebuild the club, whilst watching their biggest rivals dominate Scottish football.
Every player gets stick, and especially under the constant scrutiny that a Rangers captain is under. He has felt the wrath of negativity, football supporters are quick to throw any player not performing at their best under the bus. Yet time and time again he’s stepped up when need be, faced adversity head on, and deservedly lead Rangers to their first title in 10 years, their first Scottish Cup in 13 years, and a European final.
There is something unique about ‘Tavi’. Something that has always been a talking point for pundits and fans alike; his goal contributions. A modern fullback in every sense of the phrase, with 190 goal involvements (83 goals, and 107 assists) during his time at Rangers, he has reinvented what is to expected from a right-back in Scotland. Tavernier has constantly found himself in positions that would be the envy of countless top forwards.Popping up in the 6 yard box to score goals against the likes of Dortmund, and not to mention his composure from 12 yards, calmly dispatching countless penalties under the pressure of 50 thousand sets of eyes.
Being part of the club on this long journey to arguably their most important premiership title of the 21st century was always going to cement the squads place in history, yet, individually it would never guarantee you a spot in conversations of said journey decades down the line, but to be the Rangers captain who lifted that title will stay in the minds of fans forever. Tavernier is more than just a Rangers captain, a good player or a long serving defender. He is a huge player in the history of the club. Through all the highs, the lows, the heartache, and everything in between.