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Rangers legend Ally McCoist: The icons of the 1990s

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Ally McCoist has been an actor, quiz show captain, radio presenter and TV pundit.

But he was a footballer first and foremost.

Rattling off the highlights of a goal-crusted career doesn’t really do justice to this effervescent king of the one-liners. A personality that endears him to almost every person he meets but that hides a ruthless core.

At Ibrox, McCoist is revered in a manner only a few have enjoyed over the years. John Greig, Jim Baxter, Davie Cooper. That’s the company he keeps.

McCoist is the club’s record goalscorer, with 355 in all competitions. Yet the East Kilbride-born striker had a less than auspicious start at Ibrox, after his £185,000 transfer from Sunderland in the summer of 1983.

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A target of the boo-boys, McCoist, who started his career at St Johnstone, could have caved in but showed that tougher side of his character.

He said recently: “When I look back, do I regret it? No, because it actually made me stronger.

“If I didn’t handle that, I wouldn’t have stayed at the club ... At that time, Jock Wallace probably would have sold me.”

A hat-trick against Celtic in the 1984 League Cup final cemented his place in the support’s affections.

He went on to win that competition nine times with the 1993 final, a 2-1 win over Hibs, secured with an overhead kick after coming off the bench. That it was his first game back after breaking a leg in Portugal while on Scotland duty, adds to the legend and in the aftermath his boss Walter Smith named him ‘Golden Bollocks’.

Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist celebrate winning the Scottish Cup in 1992

A year earlier, he scored a flying header that finished off Leeds in the second leg of the Champions League, having scored the winner at Ibrox. “The noise when we came on to the pitch at Ibrox in the first leg was incredible,” he said.

“But there was silence after a minute’s play. Leeds got a corner and I was supposed to be standing on the 18-yard box, where Gary McAllister hit a volley into the net.

“As he ran past he patted me on the backside and said, ‘What about that for a wee strike?’

“At Elland Road I scored with a header. As I passed him I said, ‘What about that for a wee header?’

Rangers were en route to nine in a row, with McCoist as the main striker. Stark contrast to the Graeme Souness era, where he sat on the bench so often hew was nicknamed The Judge.

Graeme Souness with Ally McCoist in training in March 1988 (Image: Daily Record)

McCoist said: “We fought like cat and dog. If I’d complained he would have sold me and there’s a wee element of me thinks he wanted that, so it was the last thing he was getting. I stayed and I worked. Graeme and I laugh about it now.”

Not being selected for the World Cup in 1998 was harder to take. “It broke my heart,” he said.

McCoist played three seasons with Kilmarnock, before a successful TV career, captaining a team on A Question of Sport.

(Image: Daily Record)

But he was lured back with Smith as part of the Scotland set-up and when the ‘gaffer’ returned to Ibrox, McCoist went as his No 2.

They reached the UEFA Cup Final in 2008 and when Smith retired in 2011, McCoist was handed the job. It coincided with the worst time in the club’s history but he wouldn’t quit.

His words, “We don’t do walking away” were to become iconic. But the pressure of dealing with those who got their hands on the club was telling. In December 2014, he’d had enough.

The smile is back on McCoist’s face these days. Of his Ibrox life he says: “I was very privileged to play there, coach there and manage there. It was a dream come true.”




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