Fernando Ricksen will renew some old acquaintances when FC Zenit St. Petersburg face Rangers FC, but insisted that "the only thing that matters is winning".
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Ricksen spent six seasons at Ibrox after then Rangers manager Dick Advocaat signed him from AZ Alkmaar in 2000, and despite a fractious start to life in Lanarkshire, he enjoyed some success. Before he followed Advocaat to Russia and Zenit in 2006 he claimed seven trophies with the Gers and is relishing the chance of coming up against former team-mates at the City of Manchester Stadium. "First of all I am very happy to be in the final, and with it coming against Rangers I am very pleased to see familiar faces," he said.
The former Dutch international was a regular in UEFA club competition with Rangers, but enjoyed little success and admits the chance to shine on a bigger stage was a key factor in attracting him to Zenit. "I wouldn't ever go to a team if I never saw potential in them," said Ricksen, who has been second fiddle to Aleksandr Anyukov for much of this season's UEFA Cup campaign. "When I came to Zenit and saw the standard of players we had, I knew it would only be a matter of time before we did something in Europe."
Soon after moving to Russia, Ricksen and Zenit faced Rangers in a friendly largely overshadowed by a foul by the 31-year-old Dutchman on Chris Burke, which left the youngster sidelined for a month. It hardly endeared him to the Ibrox faithful but Ricksen is hoping they can put that behind them. "I hope that, because of all the years I played there, that I get a warm welcome from all the staff and the players – I gave my best there," he said. "But I play for Zenit now and the only thing that matters is winning, so if that happens I will be happy."