Retiring last summer after a one year spell with Zulte Waregem, Thomas Buffel brought his 20 year professional career to a close.

While spending most of it with KRC Genk (nine years), the former forward also had a three and a half year stint at Rangers in Glasgow, for whom he made 59 appearances, scored nine goals and assisted another 12.

Fondly remembered at Ibrox, the Belgian feels the same way about his former club, saying as much in an interview with DH ahead of their clash against Standard Liège in the Europa League.

He said: “I lived very strong moments there. When I arrived in the winter of 2005, we made an incredible comeback to end up champions. I was decisive on the title winning goal by giving Nacho Novo an assist.

“For the fans, we are still to this day a team that didn’t want to let go. The next year, we played the Champions League and, against Inter, I gave an assist to Peter Lovendranks, who scored the goal to qualify us for the first knockout round. They are incredible memories.”

Even if he is still ‘welcomed like a hero’ at Ibrox, Buffel feels his story ‘could have been even more beautiful without injuries’, knowing full well him scoring against Celtic goes a long way towards helping his status.

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As for how he feels about Rangers as a whole, he said: “A club of traditions with a great history on the national and European scene. Players like Gascoigne, Laudrup or the De Boer brothers have put on that shirt, which is a big responsibility. In Belgium, we don’t realise how much this club counts and the world support that surrounds it.

“We sometimes would go to Toronto or Johannesburg for friendlies to meet the fans. Their loyalty is amazing: even in the fourth tier, a few years ago, they were 40,000 in the stadium. No club in Belgium can claim that.”

Currently top of the Scottish Premiership following a 2-0 win over Celtic, Rangers are where they are today thanks to Steven Gerrard, who has helped take them to the next level, and that’s something Buffel agrees with.

He added: “He’s brought his football knowledge and his experience of a physical game to the team, which is key away from home, and it works. I met him a few months ago. He’s a gentleman and a winner. He’s demanding. I would have liked him to be my manager… and even more my teammate. In the current team, there’s still two of my ex-teammates: McGregor and Davis.”

Finally, the question of who would win between Standard Liège and Rangers came about.

For Buffel, it’ll be close.

He said: “Standard are favourite at home because they’re in good form. In Scotland, they’d play for the title with Rangers and Celtic. Rangers have a good mix of experience and youth, but they are maybe lacking a few players of another level to try for more.”