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Steven Davis could join Rangers elite list but reluctant hero won't want to be mentioned in same breath as Greig and Jardine

By Scott McDermott

John Greig, Sandy Jardine, Dave Smith, Willie Johnston.

On Wednesday night in Seville, there’s every chance that Steven Davis’ name will be added to that illustrious list.

Just don’t let the humble Northern Irishman hear you say it.

If Davis gets on the pitch for Rangers against Eintracht Frankfurt, he’ll become only the fifth player in the club’s history to appear in two European finals.

Legendary figures Greig, Jardine, Smith and Johnston played in the 1967 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final – and again five years later when the Barcelona Bears were born as they defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 to lift the trophy.

Davis was part of Walter Smith’s side who lost the UEFA Cup showpiece to Zenit St Petersburg in 2008.

And now at 37, he’s still a key part of Gio van Bronckhorst’s squad who will aim to make history at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

It’s doubtful whether any modern-day player will reach two European finals with a Scottish club again in our lifetime.

That’s why Davis will deserve to have his name alongside club icons if he achieves the feat, aside from the nine domestic trophies he’s already won at Ibrox.

Stephen Craigan, his former Northern Ireland team-mate – and BT Sport co-commentator for Gers’ Euro run – insists the midfielder merits every accolade going. But he says Davis’ humility will stop him from believing that he belongs in the company of Rangers greats like Greig and Jardine.

Craigan told MailSport : “If people talk about Steven’s achievement of reaching two European finals with Rangers, he’ll be uncomfortable with it.

“He doesn’t like being in the spotlight or people talking him up.

“He just wants to play football and go home. But he’ll be the first one to speak about other players, who are legends of the club.

“Steven just sees himself as a guy who has been able to live his dream for a number of years. He actually won’t realise how good he is. That’s why he lets other people do the talking for him.

“He won’t want to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Greig and Jardine.

“But as time goes on and, when he retires from the game, his name will come to the forefront a bit more.

“It’s hard to say where he compares to those guys in terms of his legendary status at Rangers.

“But he’s been a great servant to Rangers.

“It’s unfair to compare him to these guys. He’s just been very good at what he’s done – and he’s done it in a very unassuming way.

“He’s a wonderful team-mate and an example to the young players at Rangers’ training centre.

“Those boys should look at who plays consistently well, who gets the best out of themselves.

“They should ask, ‘What do they do, what can I do to copy them?’.

“They should try and get insight from Steven on how he’s had such a lengthy, distinguished career. That’s the legacy Davis would want to leave as a Rangers player.”

Craigan was in the Northern Ireland set-up when a skinny kid from Aston Villa showed up and covered every blade of grass.

He’s now top of the UK list for number of caps and STILL going strong for club and country.

In his first spell at Rangers in 2008 Davis was a box-to-box midfielder.

Now, he’s the sitter who controls and dictates games from deep.

Craigan believes his intelligence and ability to adapt as he’s got older have given him longevity at a high level.

He said: “First of all, Steven’s a smashing footballer. And whether it’s been manufactured or it has come naturally, his game has changed over the years.

“He’s taken a step back and played the game with a different perspective.

“To be able to adapt like that but still maintain your standards is incredible.

“He’s still got that mantra of being so important to Rangers and Northern Ireland.

(David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

“Steven’s the type who doesn’t put on weight or lose fitness.

“I imagine when he does tests at Rangers, he’s still right up there.

“Everything about him epitomises what you want in a midfield player, either in his younger days or now.

“Look at his consistency. Seldom does he have a bad game.

“When people say that about Steven, it’s because he’s maybe given the ball away twice in a game.

“That shows you the standards he’s set and that’s credit to him.

“I hope this isn’t his last season at Rangers because he’s still got lots to offer.

“His performances rarely dip or fluctuate. He has a level of consistency in his performances and brings a level of calmness and confidence.

“Steven settles players around him.

“So hopefully this Europa League Final isn’t the swan song for him at Rangers and there’s more to come.

“He’s shown in the games he’s played this season that he’s still more than capable.

“Steven is an inspiration for young Rangers fans and kids in Northern Ireland.

“Whether it’s young boys back home or at Rangers, they’ll look at him and think, ‘That’s where I want to get to’.”

Along with the likes of Ally McCoist and Alex Rae, Craigan has been on every step of Rangers’ journey to the final in Seville through BT Sport’s commentary.

It’s been a thrilling ride for everyone involved after watching Borussia Dortmund, Braga, Red Star Belgrade and RB Leipzig being disposed off in the knock-out rounds.

Craigan believes Motherwell need to start on the front-foot. (SNS Group)

And Craigan sees no reason why Davis & Co can’t lift the trophy in midweek.

He said: “In every knockout tie, I imagine that all of their opponents would probably have rubbed their hands and thought, ‘Yes, we’ve got Rangers’.

“They’ve been underdogs in every round but found a way to win.

“The manager’s flexibility has brought freshness to the players.

“Naturally, it’s been a big disappointment not to win the league.

“But this Europa run has catapulted Rangers into the spotlight.

“They’ve won games people didn’t expect them to.

“That has given the supporters and players belief, without being arrogant or over-confident.

“They’ll think they can win the final and I don’t see any reason why they can’t.

“There are warning signs. Frankfurt haven’t lost an away game in Europe all season, winning in Betis, Barcelona and London.

“But the Rangers players will know all that and it’s there for them to grasp.

“They’ve grasped it up until now so they won’t be fazed by this occasion.”

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Dive Deeper:
Steven Davis set to join elite Rangers group but humble star 'avoids spotlight'
The Northern Ireland captain could become just the fifth player to feature in two European finals for the Ibrox club
James Tavernier fears Rangers scolding from John Greig if he doesn't lift Europa League trophy
Tavernier wants to have a legacy like Greig's as he aims to become the second captain in the club's history…
Giovanni van Bronckhorst inspired by John Greig's Rangers legacy and teachings of Dutch masters
THE stories have been passed down through the generations at Ibrox. The heroes of a new tale could soon have…
James Tavernier reveals John Greig motivation as he aims to skipper Rangers to Europa League glory
JAMES TAVERNIER is determined to follow in John Greig's footsteps and secure his Ibrox legacy by leading Rangers to Europa…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
James Sands embraces tales of Rangers past glories ahead of shot at Europa League history
JAMES SANDS took a tour of the Trophy Room at Ibrox and saw the medals and mementos, the trophies and…
Rangers 2008 UEFA Cup XI - where they are now ahead of Europa League final?
A Northern Ireland hero is one of two of that season's squad set to play in yet another Euro final…
Get all your news in one place