Rangers FC captain Barry Ferguson will savour one of his proudest moments when he equals the club's European appearance record in tonight's UEFA Cup Round of 16 first leg against CA Osasuna. The occasion will mark the 29-year-old midfielder's 64th game in continental competition, matching the achievement of John Greig, the man voted Rangers' greatest player.
"Usually I'm not one for records, but when I got told I was about to equal Greigy's then I realised it was something special," said Ferguson. "He's a legend at the club, so I'm over the moon to have matched that. He's someone I look up to for advice and it means a lot to have equalled him."
During two spells at Ibrox, the Scotland skipper has experienced many highs and lows in Europe, the most notable being last season's feat in becoming the first Scottish team to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout stage. However, he has mixed memories of his continental debut nine years ago in the inauspicious surroundings of Prenton Park, home of English team Tranmere Rovers FC, where Rangers came from three down to beat Irish side Shelbourne FC 5-3.
"I remember we were getting beaten 3-0 and [manager] Dick Advocaat gave us a roasting at half-time," he added. "That seems a long time ago now, but I remember thinking it was just great to be playing European football. We did well to reach the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League last year and were disappointed not to go further, but every game I play for Rangers is special and I have a lot of good memories."
Turning his attention to tonight's visit of Osasuna, Ferguson is expecting a tough encounter even though the Spanish outfit will be without first-choice strikers Savo Milošević and Roberto Soldado. Ferguson, who scored twice in the 4-0 win against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC a fortnight ago, is confident of securing a home victory and giving Rangers a platform for progress to the last eight - and, of course, the final at Glasgow's Hampden Park on 16 May.
"It's going to be tough but it's a game we're looking forward to and we've got every chance of progressing," said Ferguson. "The away leg in Spain will be difficult so if we can get a few goals at home, I would be confident of going through. We're looking to get to that final at Hampden. Celtic did it a few seasons ago [losing 3-2 to FC Porto in 2003] so there's no reason we can't do the same."
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