In a time of post-Brexit uncertainty, the continued link between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom has been a hot topic of discussion. Another red hot topic is who has been the best ever import to both England and Scotland, with fans of clubs across both countries having very different views on who should be regarded as the best.
Manchester United fans would cite that Cristiano Ronaldo was the best, Liverpool fans may look to Luis Suarez while Tottenham, well Tottenham will say Gareth Bale was the best import even though he was born in Wales, it’s just because they want to remind everyone where he was before he moved to Real Madrid. In Scotland, though, Rangers fans will point to one of the Laudrup brothers.
While Laurdup is well known for his two-year stint at Bayern Munich, Scottish fans will remember him fondly for his time spent at Rangers.
Before his spell at Rangers, Laudrup played in Serie A, with the Italian league widely regarded as the best in the world at the time. However, he spent a difficult few seasons there, getting relegated with Fiorentina, before being loaned out to AC Milan, with whom he did not play often due to Fabio Capello’s preference of playing more defensive players.
July 1994 saw Scottish side Rangers offer Laudrup a much needed escape route from his Italian woes. Walter Smith proved to be a very big part in the deal as the Scottish side secured the Dane’s signature for £2.3 million.
He immediately hit the ground running as his direct style and love of attacking football caused the hardy Scottish fans to fall in love with the forward. He was a major part of the Rangers team that completed a remarkable nine Scottish league titles in a row, an unprecedented display of dominance.
His dominance with Rangers allowed the Dane to pick up the Danish Player of the Year award two more times, meaning he had won the award four times. Laudrup also won the Scottish footballer of the year award in 1994/95 and 1996/97, while he was voted players’ player of the year in 1994/95.
In fact, enjoy some vintage Laudrup below:
— Net World Sports (@NetWorldSports) February 22, 2017
The fan’s love affair with Laudrup was taken to new heights in the 1996 Scottish Cup Final, as he scored twice and setup a further three goals as Rangers triumphed in a 5-1 win over Heart of Midlothian. The final was dubbed the ‘Laudrup Final’, but you have to feel sorry for Gordon Durie, who scored a hat-trick in the final, and is largely ignored in the history lessons on this one.
Laudrup found the net 33 times in 116 appearances for Rangers, and he is widely regarded as their best ever foreign player.
To add even more to the Scottish fairytale, Laudrup turned down Barcelona for Rangers, as reported by BBC Sport:
“I spoke to Walter and said, ‘before you read anything in the papers I’ve just had an offer from Barcelona and I’ve turned it down’. He didn’t say anything for a minute and then he said, ‘So you’d prefer to play Falkirk on a Tuesday night?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I love it’ and he laughed and shook my hand”.
It is difficult not to admire Laudrup, with his troubles in Italy not halting his quest for a club that he could play his free-flowing and attractive football for. He found that, of all places, in Scotland, playing teams like “Falkirk on a Tuesday night”.
While he had further unhappy stints with Chelsea, Copenhagen and Ajax, he is still remembered fondly by Rangers and their fans for his style, the trophies he helped to win and, of course, the goals he scored against Celtic:
Goals against Celtic: ⚽⚽⚽⚽⚽
Header sealed 9 in-a-row: ✔️️
Simply the Best: ✔️️
Happy Birthday Brian Laudrup pic.twitter.com/9HRIhR3ldl
— RangersLinfieldFC (@bluesbrothers86) February 22, 2017