ALLY McCoist last night admitted he was struggling to come to terms with the tragic death of his former Rangers player Arnold Peralta in a drive-by shooting in his native Honduras.

The 26-year-old, who was at the Ibrox club for two seasons, was killed in a shopping centre car park in his home town of La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast on Thursday after being struck by 18 bullets.

McCoist signed Peralta from Vida back in the summer of 2013 during his time in charge as manager and the midfielder was a regular starter as his side won League One without losing a single game in the subsequent campaign.

The player’s time in Scotland ultimately ended disappointingly; he fell out of the first team at the Glasgow club last season, left by mutual consent back in January and returned to Central America to play for Olimpia.

However, McCoist paid a heartfelt tribute to the 26-times capped internationalist for the role he performed in helping Rangers climb up the divisions and revealed his deep gratitude at him agreeing to move to this country.

“It is shocking news,” he said. “All I can think about his wee daughter who is only a few months old. It is such a tragic waste of life for him to be taken from us in this cold blooded way. I am finding it difficult to comprehend.

“I have got to say, no matter how it turned out, Arnold did me and my staff at Rangers a great service at the time. We were really toiling at the time that he joined us for transfers. The club was in chaos. But he took the chance.

“We couldn’t get players in at that period in in time. Getting young players in on loan from top flight clubs down south in England proved impossible. They weren’t going to come to play in the Second Division.

“It is different now. There is a bit of stability at the club again which is fantastic to see. But at that time an international player coming from Honduras to Scotland was massive for us. It was a big move for him as well and we respected that.

“He didn’t play as much as he wanted to at Rangers and he let me know that. But that’s life. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful and appreciative we were that he took a chance to come to a new country and play for us at the time that he did.”

Peralta, a tough-tackling central midfielder who was often selected on the right flank, played in 24 games in all competitions in his first season in this country and earned a reputation for being a fierce competitor. McCoist stressed that he had admired that aspect of his character.

“Arnold was a good guy,” he said. “He worked his socks off. He was a real old school player. There was a bit of devilment about him which I loved. He certainly wasn’t scared. I would far rather have him on my team than against me that’s for sure.

“His international manager at Honduras came over to Scotland to see him train and play when Arnold was with Rangers and it was clear he thought the world of him as well.”

Rangers will hold a minute’s silence in memory of Peralta before kick-off in their Ladbrokes Championship match against Greenock Morton at Ibrox today. McCoist admitted he was pleased he would be honoured in such a manner.

“I’m delighted and not at all surprised the club and supporters will honour Arnold with a minute’s silence before the game this weekend,” he said. “It’s the way it should be at Rangers.”