JOHN GILLIGAN has watched and worked with enough Rangers managers in his time to know a special one when he sees him.

When Steven Gerrard was appointed three years ago, he had the feelings that reminded him of one of the most famous men to hold the illustrious office.

The comparisons between Gerrard and Graeme Souness - given their links with Liverpool and their inexperience in the dugout - were obvious ones to make in May 2018. There is now another similarity, though.

If Souness was a revolution, then Gerrard has been more evolution. However it has been done, one Anfield legend has followed another and become a hero and a champion at Ibrox.

"I felt joy and excitement when he was announced, just like everyone other Rangers fan," Gilligan said.

“I thought it was a Souness moment, because I can remember when Graeme was appointed.

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“I am 69-years-old so I remember Celtic’s first nine-in-a-row and then the dominance of Dundee United and Aberdeen in the 1980s.

“I remember thinking,’Souness, wow.’ I felt the same when Steven was appointed. I saw the quality, the style and the way he carried himself.

“I take my hat off to the guys who got him in. I was involved in the early stuff and I would always pay credit to someone like Stuart McCall who came in and did his very best for the club. Mark [Warburton] and Pedro [Caixinha] too.

"But Steven just filled everyone with another level of excitement. We needed that other thing and Steven was it.

“Steven’s achievements are probably bigger than Graeme in the sense Graeme was working off the back of that five year ban in Europe for English clubs.

“It meant he could attract players like Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and Trevor Steven.

“What Steven has done in three years is just unbelievable.”

When Souness won his first title as Rangers manager in 1987, he would change the course of Scottish football as the club was overhauled and entered a new era.

The Premiership title success this term saw Rangers end a decade-long wait for success and title 55 - given everything that the support has endured on and off the park - will go down as the most significant in Ibrox history.

“It was so special, just phenomenal," Gilligan, who stepped down from the board in 2017 following a two-year stint in the aftermath of regime change, said. "For most I think it was a dream.

“I thought Celtic would have been too good for us again last year. I knew we would be closer, a lot closer, but we were fantastic. It’s been an incredible transformation.

“It’s like anything else when you go to a new job or take something new on, you only see the good things.

“You don’t look at the pitfalls or the problems and I have to say I had no idea.

“We probably blanked a lot of it because we didn’t want to be put off. We were always going in.”

Had Gilligan, Dave King and Paul Murray not been victorious in their boardroom battle in March 2015, it is almost certain that Rangers would not have been in a position to clinch 55 this term.

The seasons after their EGM victory were difficult as the new board picked up the pieces and a series of managers failed to deliver the required results whilst Celtic dominated our game.

Those tables have now turned, though. Even through the darkest days, Gilligan never feared it was a lost cause at Ibrox.

“I never believed that, not with Dave and Douglas and John Bennett," Gilligan said.

“I had no doubt these guys were committed financially and that’s what we needed at that point.

“I knew we could fix the other things, plus with the reaction of the fans I knew we would get there. I didn’t think it would take us as long.

“I dread to think what would happen if we hadn’t managed to get regime change, probably because it doesn’t bear thinking about.

“The week we declared the EGM was the week Mike Ashley said he was going to put in another £5million to secure the stadium and the training ground.

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“To me that would have been the point of no return, we would have lost control of the club then.

“Mike Ashley would have controlled Rangers. We were going to declare on the Wednesday but there was a delay in the paperwork.

“Then ended up announcing first they were putting in the £5m to take security. It was the night we played Hearts, the game was abandoned.

“There were ugly protests outside the ground so the timing actually worked in our favour.”

Six years on from those highly-charged gatherings at the front door of the stadium, supporters would congregate in celebration to mark title 55 and hail Gerrard and his players.

Gilligan would take a seat at an empty Ibrox to witness the moment that James Tavernier held aloft the trophy but knows as well as anyone that nothing can be taken for granted going forward no matter the success that has been achieved this term.

Gilligan said: "It was awesome to be at Ibrox for it. It was fantastic, it really was. It was so sad that we couldn’t all be there but it never spoiled anyone’s time.

"Everyone is thrilled. It feels different, it feels like one of these moments where there is a shift in the powerbase. I have lived through it the other way. I think this is it.

"I just always respect the fact that Celtic are Celtic and they could be brilliant next year, they could be struggling. I don’t know.

"What I am excited about is that we went through a season winning every home game, never lost a league game, lost 13 goals. In my lifetime… that excites me."

*John Gilligan was speaking at the launch of 'Just Champion: The stories behind Rangers' 2020/21 title triumph'. Written by Jeff Holmes and published by Pitch Publishing. RRP £16.99.