James Tavernier came through the academy system at Newcastle, and after spells on loan, with a move to Wigan sandwiched between them, he moved to Rangers in 2015.
Still a Championship club then, he wanted to be part of the rebirth of a giant, and help Rangers re-establish themselves as one of Scotland’s powerhouses, after the now infamous issues that plagued much of this decade.
Three and a half years later, and he is now firmly established as one of Steven Gerrard’s key players — which was acknowledged when he was given the captain’s armband this season.
As captain, he is the first name on Gerrard’s team-sheet each week, and he has consistently led by example over the season.
With still eight games left — and a massive Old Firm clash against Celtic this weekend — he has already made 50 appearances this season, and that he has played in every competition Rangers have taken part in, it underlines his importance to the team.
To think that as a youngster, Tavernier could not get close to establishing himself in the Newcastle senior team, and all his temporary moves away from St James’ Park, it is testament to his character and self-belief that he never gave up.
Awarded with an improved contract at the beginning of the season, Tavernier, at 28-year-old, still has his best years ahead of him, and tied down at Ibrox until 2022, should see him leading the club for a few years to come.
Perhaps one of Tavernier’s most impressive stats is that, as a defender, he has only been booked once in his 50 games this season, which is remarkable for a full back who is up against pacy, tricky wingers almost every week.
His low point of the season, however, happened recently when playing in a game at Easter Road, a Hibs fan ran along the touchline and attacked the Rangers captain as he attempted to take a throw-in.
It was an ugly incident, and not one that Tavernier will remember fondly, but he kept his composure and helped his side secure a point.
Tavernier’s is a success story for a player who, in footballing terms, has gone from rags to riches.
A young player deemed unlikely to succeed by Newcastle, who has gone on to be captain of one of the biggest clubs in Britain.
Newcastle’s loss has most definitely been Rangers’ gain.
What do you think of your captain’s performances this season, Rangers fans? Do you hope he skippers your side for the years ahead? Let us know…
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