Davie Robertson is aware of what it’s prefer to be caught chilly even whereas enjoying in searing 100 diploma warmth.
Walter Smith’s Rangers had been left gasping for air as they entered a Greek cauldron 27 years in the past, with a red-hot AEK Athens aspect allotting a lesson each in soccer and the darkish arts.
The sneaky hosts had disabled the air-con within the away dressing room, leaving Smith’s Ibrox aspect wilting earlier than they’d even stepped out onto the pitch on the stuffy Nikos Goumas Stadium.
Gers had signed Brian Laudrup that summer season however even the dazzling Dane couldn’t rescue Gers’ Champions League hopes as they crashed 2-0 within the Greek capital earlier than being burned up once more at house.
A 12 months later, Rangers had been sweating it out once more as they confronted Anorthosis Famagusta – with a single Gordon Durie aim over two legs edging them previous the Cypriot minnows to reclaim the membership’s place at Europe’s prime desk.
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However for Robertson – a part of the group who additionally flopped towards Levski Sofia simply months after coming inside a aim of reaching the 1993 Champions League last – there was no nice sensation of pleasure at lastly overcoming their early-season tribulations. Solely aid.
In line with the nine-in-a-row hero, qualifiers are to be endured – not savoured.
Fortunately for Steven Gerrard ’s modern-day Ibrox squad, the sense of jeopardy isn’t fairly the identical this time spherical with Rangers assured to be enjoying some form of European motion till Christmas following the introduction of UEFA’s new Convention League.
However Robbo reckons there shall be few inside the Gentle Blues squad wanting ahead to Monday’s Champions League third qualifying spherical draw, the place Gers will be taught their opening opponents as they kick-off their bid to succeed in the group phases of the Europe’s premier competitors for the primary time in a decade.
“I by no means seemed ahead to those qualifiers,” stated the previous Gers left-back. “They had been all the time uncomfortable.
“Towards Famagusta, we simply couldn’t break them down. It was so tough to play towards them but this was a group everybody anticipated us to place 4 or 5 previous.
“I don’t assume in Europe we had been ever actually ready after we might try this to an opponent, definitely not in my time on the membership.
“I keep in mind we performed AEK Athens in 100 levels warmth. You’re up towards it with that earlier than you even issue within the different group.
“I keep in mind for that sport we bought to the bottom early and there was no air-con within the dressing room. These had been the form of soiled tips they used to tug in these days. I hope they don’t strive that stuff these days.
“The end result was we had been all so drained earlier than we’d even kicked a ball on the market. We ended up dropping the primary leg 2-0 and had a mountain to climb again at Ibrox.
“There was quite a lot of strain on us as a result of these video games had been so vital financially.
“However the situations are usually not the identical as you’re used to again house. There’s all of the hostility you face with all types occurring then you definitely add in it’s so early within the season.
“So we actually did really feel that strain earlier than these massive qualifiers. The followers, the Press, everyone would discuss how a lot the membership would earn by reaching the Champions League. We had been on massive bonuses too and that in itself introduced strain.
“Due to all of that, these video games typically are usually not pleasurable.
“Should you do get by means of and qualify, the sensation is extra aid than anything. Then you already know you’ve bought six video games towards actual top-class opposition however I feel getting there may be the toughest half.”
Monday’s draw – which might probably see Gers handed a rematch with former Europa League opponents Legia Warsaw or a showdown towards earlier Celtic conquerors Cluj and Ferencvaros – shall be eagerly awaited by Gerrard, who received the competitors as a participant with Liverpool again in 2005.
And Robertson reckons that nous shall be key if at the moment’s group are to keep away from a repeat of the slip-ups suffered by their 90s predecessors.
“Steven should still be an inexperienced supervisor however his expertise of enjoying within the Champions League has definitely proved its price with the whole lot he’s achieved at Ibrox thus far,” stated the Actual Kashmir boss.
“He received’t be fazed by any of this.
“Once we first reached the Champions League in 1992 below Walter Smith, it was all new to us. However Steven has been enjoying on this competitors all by means of his profession.
“He’ll know what the gamers undergo and can know take a few of that strain away from them.”
And Robbo believes Gerrard’s Premiership invincibles could have no issues peaking for the very important early qualifiers after seeing them attain the final 16 of the Europa League two seasons on the bounce.
“Final season the league was unbelievable however their run in Europe was so spectacular too,” he stated.
“Throughout my time on the membership, we’d possibly scrape a win or scrape a draw after we performed in Europe.
“However Steven’s group have been successful video games towards superb sides comfortably.
“That’s right down to the consistency of the squad. For too lengthy there have been too many modifications being made at Ibrox each summer season.
Nicely that has appeared to cool down this season and there has solely a few new signings coming on this time.
“That reveals that Gerrard has quite a lot of confidence within the gamers he has.
“They did an ideal flip final 12 months and I’m positive they’ll do it once more.”