But as he reflects upon his role in Rangers’ epic Europa League elimination of Borussia Dortmund, van Bronckhorst admits that management has brought him a new and even more gratifying dimension to success on the big stage.
“For me, I had many moments as a player – some really proud ones at Rangers,” he said. “When you win in Europe or lift silverware, it’s always special.
“But when you compare it to doing it as a manager, it’s much more satisfying as you are responsible for the whole process – not just your performance as a player.
“You have to make sure the staff is functioning well and that the players are ready to play, both physically and mentally. So when you have these pleasing moments as a manager, it’s very satisfying and proud.
“These are memories you will take with you your whole life. It’s the same memories I have from when we played Parma (in 1999) and went to the Champions League.
“These are the moments you work for and you want to feel these moments in Europe as a player, a coach and as a fan as well, which you saw from the atmosphere at Ibrox on Thursday, which was fantastic.”
The stadium is sure to be in a ferment again on March 10 when Rangers host the first leg of their last 16 tie against Red Star Belgrade. Van Bronckhorst is bullish about his team’s prospects of overcoming the Serbian champions and taking Rangers into the last eight of a European competition for the first time since 2008.
“To overcome Dortmund will of course give us confidence because we competed against one of the best and we went through,” he added.
“We knew which teams we could draw in the last 16 and we’ve ended up with Red Star.
“It’s an opponent for us who we will have a good look at, the games they have played. They were first in their Europa League group, so it means they are a strong team.
“We will prepare our team as always, to give them as much information as possible and make sure we progress to the next round.
“It sure makes the difference for my players to compete in these atmospheres and I’m sure the next home game we play against Red Star, it will be the same atmosphere.
“I think you always have to show your ambition no matter who you play against. You always have that belief. We have shown that with the games we have played against Dortmund.
“We knew it was going to be hard but we had very good moments in both games. Also moments where we had to dig deep but in the end I think it’s a historic win against one of the biggest teams in Europe.
“So it’s very satisfying for all of us. You can feel the performance we had was immense. You know how special European football can be for Rangers.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.