Rangers return to Champions League after 12 years and a humiliating financial crisis

A decade ago, Rangers was liquidated as a club and restarted in the fourth tier of Scottish football. Once labelled the wealthiest football club in Britain, the former Scottish champions were on the brink of extinction.

Cut to present, Rangers have joined city rival Celtic, which got direct entry as the Scottish league winner, in the lucrative Champions League that is worth tens of millions of euros (dollars) to each.

Rangers returned to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 12 years with a 1-0 win at PSV Eindhoven.

Rangers will take its place in Thursday’s group-stage draw thanks to Croatia forward Antonio Čolak’s 60th-minute goal in the second leg to seal a 3-2 win on aggregate score.

“It’s difficult to describe in words, it was a great team performance. It’s an amazing journey we’ll have this year and I’m so proud of all of these guys,” said Colak.

“I was in tears on the pitch, it was just a moment of joy. As a kid I always wanted to compete at this level and to be here is amazing,” he added.

With Celtic also in the group stage, Scotland will have both their giants in the elite competition for the first time since 2007/08.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst believes his players will complete the journey back when they step into the Champions League spotlight.

“You know where the club comes from,” he said after the match.

“Ten years ago we were at the lowest part of our history. It took really hard work to build the club back again to a level we achieved now.

“It’s a proud moment for me to give this to all the people who used so much energy building this club up again.

“Of course there were dark moments. But it’s a great metaphor to have the dark moments then step into the spotlight of the biggest competition in the world,” he said.

Van Bronckhurst, a Champions League and World Cup winner, described taking Rangers into the Champions League as a huge landmark in his career.

“It comes really close to being the best moment. It’s a proud moment for me to give this to all the people who used so much energy building this club up again,” he said.

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