Snap shot: Rangers' 2008 finalists
Wednesday, 18 May 2022
Rangers' came up short in the penultimate UEFA Cup decider in 2007/08. What happened to their starting XI?
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Rangers came up just short against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2022 UEFA Europa League final, losing on penalties after a tense 1-1 draw in Seville.
It was a heartbreaking result for a club that had also lost their previous final, but what happened to the 11 players who started the 2008 UEFA Cup decider against Zenit in Manchester? A regular supply of silverware, a smattering of impressive records and one player still representing the Gers are among the answers.
1 Saša Papac
Papac had played in his native Bosnia and Herzegovina for Široki Brijeg and in Austria for Kärnten and Austria Wien before moving to Rangers in 2006. At 28, he was at the peak of his powers in the 2008 final having adapted seamlessly from a centre-back into a full-back during his time at Ibrox. Rangers proved to be his final club as he retired due to injury in 2012 after winning eight trophies in Scotland.
2 Steven Whittaker
The hero of Rangers' stunning 2-0 win at Sporting CP in the quarter-final second leg, Whittaker was in the second of his five seasons at Ibrox after transferring from Hibs. Capable of playing on either side of the pitch, the Scottish international also scooped eight trophies at the club before spells with Norwich City, Hibs and Dunfermline Athletic.
3 Brahim Hemdani
The Algerian holding midfielder had made his name in France with Cannes, Strasbourg and Marseille – where he was also a UEFA Cup runner-up in 2004 – before heading to Scotland on a free transfer in 2005. Hemdani played the entire 90 minutes of this final but, surprisingly, did not make another senior appearance before leaving at the end of the following season.
4 Neil Alexander
Despite starting his career in Scotland, the goalkeeper made his name in six seasons at Cardiff City. He only returned to his homeland from Ipswich Town in January 2008 to be back-up to Allan McGregor but was thrust into the run-in due to an injury to the current Rangers custodian. Alexander kept clean sheets in both semi-final legs against Fiorentina – and saved a penalty in the shoot-out. Won eight trophies at Ibrox before representing Hearts and Livingston.
5 David Weir
A former Falkirk and Hearts stopper, Weir was a stalwart at Everton between 1999–2007. The Scottish international was only offered a six-month deal when he initially joined Rangers but proved so influential that he signed for a further season and started at centre-back in this final at the age of 38. He went on to be named Scottish Premier League Player of the Year in 2010 – at the age of 40 – then became the oldest player ever to represent Scotland and the joint oldest outfield player in UEFA Champions League history.
6 Carlos Cuéllar
Weir's central-defensive partner only spent a single season at Ibrox after joining from Osasuna. The Spanish stopper collected the Scottish Premier League Player of the Year and Scottish Football Writers Associations Player of the Year awards before moving to England. Spent time with Aston Villa, Sunderland, Norwich and Almería before ending his career with three years in Israel.
7 Jean-Claude Darcheville
The French-Guyana forward played over 100 times for both Lorient and Bordeaux before heading to Rangers in summer 2007. He scored 15 goals for Rangers in his first season, including the crucial opener at Sporting CP, yet, incredibly, this final was the only time he ever completed the full 90 minutes for the Light Blues. Spent 18 months back in France after leaving Ibrox before a season in Greece with Kavala.
8 Kirk Broadfoot
Made 174 appearances for St Mirren before joining Rangers in 2007. He made the right-back slot his own after Alan Hutton's move to Tottenham and played every minute of the knockout stages as the Light Blues reached this final. Struggled with injuries throughout his time at Ibrox before playing for Blackpool, Rotherham, Kilmarnock and St Mirren. Now 37, he is still turning out in Scotland's second tier for Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
9 Barry Ferguson
The midfielder hauled in 15 trophies during his two spells at Rangers. The final against Zenit was his 400th appearance for the club and he played a staggering 62 matches over the course of the 2007/08 season, including 18 games in UEFA club competition. Capped 45 times by Scotland, Ferguson eventually left Rangers in 2009 and had stints with Birmingham City, Blackpool, Fleetwood Town and Clyde. Management spells with his final club, Kelty Hearts and Alloa Athletic have followed.
10 Kevin Thomson
Made his breakthrough at Hibs before signing for Walter Smith's Rangers in January 2007. The midfielder racked up more than 100 appearances for the club despite significant injury problems before going on to play for Middlesbrough, Dundee and two more spells at Hibs. Took his first managerial role at Kelty Hearts in May 2021 – replacing none other than his 2008 final central-midfield partner Ferguson.
11 Steven Davis
A talented prospect at Aston Villa and Fulham, Davis headed to Scotland in January 2008 and played in three finals during his initial six-month loan stint. Made his move permanent that summer and stayed for four seasons before seven years at Southampton. Returned to Ibrox and won his fourth Scottish title last season – ten years after his third with Rangers. Still playing for the Light Blues at 37, and a second-half substitute in the 2022 Europa League final, the midfielder is the most capped player of all time for Northern Ireland.
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