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On this day 1998: Rangers sign Neil McCann

By Matt Farr

Former Scotland international Neil McCann was born in Greenock on 11 August 1974, and became a popular figure at Rangers.

He began his professional career with Dundee at the age of 18, with whom he spent four years, scoring five goals in 79 appearances.

In 1996, he switched to Heart of Midlothian, where he achieved mild success during his two-year spell. He was a first-team regular under then-manager Jim Jefferies, and helped them to a shock Scottish Cup triumph – the club’s first major trophy in 36 years.

A £1.9 million transfer fee saw him move to the Scottish capital to link up with Dick Advocaat’s Rangers on this day (December 14) in 1998.

During his time at Rangers between 1998 and 2001, Advocaat invested heavily in big-name players to help them re-establish themselves at the top of the Scottish Premiership, and regain the title – including Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Andrei Kanchelskis – but McCann was considered one of Advocaat’s more modest acquisitions.

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The winger helped Rangers to the domestic treble during his first season at Ibrox, where they finished six points above Old Firm rivals Celtic. The following season, McCann and co regained their Scottish title crown, but this time by a record 21-point margin.

His debut came against his former club Hearts,  just four days after his arrival in Glasgow. Rangers won the fixture 3-2.

McCann’s next landmark moment was his first Rangers goal, which was scored in a 6-0 win over Hamilton in the Scottish Cup just two months later. The goal sparked a tremendous run of form from McCann, where he scored five goals in just four games – becoming a big hit with the Gers’ fans.

Fans remember him most though, for his brace against arch rivals Celtic that same season, helping them to a first ever title win for Rangers on Celtic’s turf.

Overall, McCann made 169 appearances for Rangers and scored 26 goals, during his five seasons at the club.

Due to financial problems in 2003, Rangers were forced to part with McCann, who they sold to Southampton. During the remaining six years of his professional career, McCann returned to Scotland to Hearts and Dundee for a second-time, separated by a brief spell with Falkirk.

Still fondly remembered by Rangers, he currently works as a pundit for Sky Sports.

In other Rangers news, the Gers have been given an emphatic response to their interest in striker Fanendo Adi.