Galatasaray forward Ryan Babel admits meeting up again with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard will be “special” but will have no qualms about putting one over the Rangers boss.
The 33-year-old Dutch winger played alongside Gerrard at Anfield between 2007 and 2011 and ahead of the Europa League play-off match at Ibrox on Thursday night, Babel recalled good times with a man he admires.
However, understandably he wants the Turkish side to make the group stages of the competition.
Babel said: “For me it’s special of course. I was fortunate to play alongside Steven Gerrard in my time in Liverpool and now he’s a manager.
“He’s doing well and I’m happy to see him doing well at Rangers. It is a special game, a tough match but you know only one team can win and hopefully it will be Galatasaray.
“I met Steven, of course, when I joined Liverpool in 2007. Very quickly, I saw that Steven Gerrard at that time was a player that didn’t need to talk much on the pitch as a captain.
“His presence and him being on the pitch, alongside his team-mates, was enough inspiration and motivation for us to get it all.
“I felt like he was talking at the right time when it was necessary. And I shared great memories of my time there and for me it’s not weird that he became a manager.
“I feel like he understands football obviously very well, and I think now you know the players who are working under him are blessed to have him.”
Babel is confident that Gerrard can have as successful a managerial career as he had on the pitch.
He said: “Yeah, I think so. It’s clear you know what he wants to accomplish.
“Steven as a player always had a lot of determination in his game and you can see it now with his current Rangers team.”
Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim is also an admirer of Gerrard, saying: “Steven is a great personality within football and has started really well as a coach. I definitely think he will get even better.”
The former Turkey boss is ready for an “all or nothing” one-off cup tie.
He said: “Rangers have been playing games since August so that might present a bit of an advantage for them.
“There is no second leg here, so it’s an all or nothing game. We have to be focused and tactically aware.
“Some of our players looked tired on Sunday (against Fenerbahce) but hopefully that won’t be the case tomorrow because it’s a different kind of game in Europe.
“We need to give everything on the pitch. We are playing a big team. We have been following their games. If we manage to get through we will be playing against more teams of this level.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.