THEY say that people make Glasgow. It is people like Jimmy Bell that made Rangers.

He was the man who had all the t-shirts. It was fitting, then, that he had been there and done that at every major occasion in the club’s history for the last three decades.

There are few figures in the long, illustrious story of Rangers who have witnessed such wonderful success. As Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side stand on the brink of the greatest achievement of all, it is tragic that Bell will not be in the dugout alongside the latest Rangers manager that has served with such distinction.

His passing at the age of 69 has left a support numb. Ibrox will remember Bell on Thursday evening ahead of the Europa League semi-final with RB Leipzig and those who will take to the field will have an extra, emotional motivation for wanting to win the tie and secure a spot in Seville.

Bell was there when nine-in-a-row was won and on Helicopter Sunday. He watched on as Walter Smith delivered domestic success and a European final.

When the club, his club, endured their toughest and most tumultuous times, Bell was a figure of strength around Ibrox, a reminder of where Rangers had come from and where they had to get back to. As title 55 was lifted last season, it was clear just what it meant to a man, an employee and a supporter who was living the dream.

His roles as bus driver or kit man did not tell of his true influence. Bell was a mentor and a father figure, a confidant and a source of inspiration to so many for so long.

He would never score a goal or make a save for Rangers, but he saw silverware lifted throughout his proud association with the club and the warm tributes paid to him on Tuesday told their own story of his significance at Ibrox.

Players and managers come and go at Rangers and directors and staff are largely inconsequential footnotes in history. Bell was different, though.

Rangers is not just a football club, it is an institution and Bell was a pillar of it, the essence of what made it special in a sporting and societal sense. He understood it and cared for it and those times of success or failure would have had as profound an effect on him as anyone with Rangers at heart.

Those that earn such glories and fortunes on the field are the ones who create and dominate the headlines, but it is figures like Bell that make Rangers what they are as a club. The people and the personalities – from the kitchen staff to those that are the public face of Rangers - are just as important as the players in that sense.

Through the good times and the bad, he counted them all in and counted them all back out again. He was an ever-present, a continuous thread that was woven into the fabric of the club just like those famous blue shirts that he laid out before every match.

His knowledge of, and affection for, Rangers was beyond question and players young and old, inexperienced and legendary, speak of their gratitude to Bell. He didn’t just appreciate the standards, the helped to drive them and the time spent in his company was invaluable to everyone who stepped through the doors at Auchenhowie or Ibrox.

Bell could be a gruff figure at times, a man who wouldn’t be slow in telling players when they had stepped out of line. Yet it was his warmth, his sense of humour and his humility that were endearing for so many that were fortunate enough to call him a friend.

Supporters felt like they knew him. Through the tributes that have been paid, the man in the stand has been given an extra understanding of what goes on behind closed doors at their club.

They can picture Bell putting his arm around a player in the boot room, imagine him diligently preparing the immaculate dressing room on a match day. He was diminutive in stature, but larger than life in and around a club who will sorely and sadly miss his presence.

Many will raise a glass to Jimmy Bell. If Rangers could hold aloft the Europa League silverware, there would be no more fitting a deed or tribute as the man at the centre of so many successes now looks down on the last squad he told the stories of the Rangers.