FROM leading the line for Rangers to being on the front line with the NHS in their battle against coronavirus.

John MacDonald faced a few formidable opponents during his time as a forward with the Ibrox club during the late 1970s and early 1980s and enjoyed, despite it not being a particularly halcyon spell for his boyhood heroes, his fair share of successes.

But “Solo”, who now works as an out-of-hours driver and occasional hospital porter in Glasgow, knows that pitting his wits against the uncompromising centre backs of that era was child’s play in comparison with what many of his colleagues are currently contending with.

A picture of MacDonald wearing his full personal protective equipment (PPE) was posted on Twitter by reality television personality Brian Matthews on Monday evening - and he was instantly inundated with goodwill messages as social media went into meltdown.

The 58-year-old, though, feels it is the doctors and nurses who are attending to Covid-19 patients on a daily basis who are most deserving of people’s appreciation, praise and support at this difficult and concerning time.

“My main job is to drive the doctors,” he said. “But a couple of years ago I started doing a portering job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital one day every other week as well. My daughter Katie works on the front desk there as well booking in the patients. She was just coming on when I was finishing the other day.

“I’m having to keep up to date with what’s happening. I just follow the correct protocol. We have to wear the full PPE gear whenever we go into a ward to move a patient. It just used to be the mask and gloves which we wore, but now you have to put the whole lot on.

“I got one of the other boys to take a photo of me with it on the other day and it got put online. My old Rangers team mate Ally Dawson saw it. He texted me and asked: ‘Are you volunteering to help with this?’ But it’s a part of my job now.

“The patients you are moving have got the symptoms of coronavirus. But you obviously don’t know who has got it. I am quite relaxed about it. At the minute I haven’t shown any of the symptoms, no coughs or anything. I suppose you do still worry. It is a bit of a frightening situation.

“But I have more sympathy with the nurses and doctors. They are with patients all the time. We’re just going into the ward from time to time. We normally just pick up a patient and take them up for an x-ray or whatever. But the doctors and nurses are doing a fantastic job. A few of them have gone off sick having shown the symptoms.”

The former League Cup and Scottish Cup winner, who also played for Charlton, Barnsley, Airdrieonians, Dumbarton and Inverness Caledonian Thistle during his 18 year football career, has found his services as a driver have been in constant demand since the coronavirus pandemic struck last month.

Many GP surgeries across the country have been closed in an attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading and MacDonald has been working around the clock to ensure those who are unwell receive the treatment they need.

“This situation has changed everything,” he said. “We are working 24/7 now. Mostly I am driving doctors to the homes of patients who are needing seen. Surgeries aren’t taking people in now so doctors are having to go out and see them.

“Every time a doctor goes in to a house to see a patient with coronavirus they have got to come out and sit beside you. Now they are getting dressed up in PPE as well. And they take everything off and put it in a plastic bag when they leave the house as well. But, as I say, is a bit frightening.”

Despite his concerns for his own wellbeing and those of his co-workers amid what is an unprecedented crisis, MacDonald stresses that he enjoys his work and takes satisfaction from being able to contribute in some small way to the nationwide effort to combat coronavirus.

“I have been doing it for 20 years now,” he said. “It’s a great job. Bobby Russell, who I obviously used to play with at Rangers, does it these days as well. All the drivers enjoy a good bit of banter together.”

The one-time PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year, who also works at Ibrox on match days providing statistics, has had little time to think about football matters since the country was placed in lockdown by the government last month.

The prospect of the 2019/20 campaign being terminated and Celtic, who were 13 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership when football was suspended back on March 13, being declared champions for the ninth year running has incensed many Rangers fans.

Steven Gerrard’s side have a game in hand and nine matches – including two Old Firm derbies - remaining in total and can still theoretically catch and overtake Neil Lennon’s team and win the Scottish title.

Deciding the outcome of the league based on current standings doesn’t sit right with MacDonald. “I am missing the football,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the league. But I am hoping they void the season!”