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Our writer Derek Clark spoke to five players who had the thankless task of facing up to Rangers legend Brian Laudrup.

They share their memories of the great Dane.

“How come you are so good?”

The immortal Jim White question sums up the genius that was Brian Laudrup perfectly.

He was good enough to render a silver-tongued presenter slack-jawed in wonderment.

The great Dane arrived at Rangers in the summer of 1994 from Fiorentina following a season spent on loan at the newly crowned European champions AC Milan.

He actually played seven times for I Rossoneri in the Champions League but never featured in the final when Fabio Capello’s side thumped Barcelona 4-0.

He was also a European Championship winner of course, and yes he could play a bit in Europe as Chick Young was ‘politely’ informed by Walter Smith.

His arrival in Govan wasn’t greeted in the same manner as Paul Gascoigne a year later but, in truth, it really should’ve been.

READ MORE: Rangers' astonishing tie with Alania Vladikavkaz: The insane trip to war zone adjacent Russian champions and unbelievable 7-2 win

Scottish football was about to witness, arguably, the greatest ever player to grace these shores.

But what was it like to play against him? We tracked down five players who ran the gauntlet of the attacker's outstanding skillset.

JOHN PHILLIBEN - Ex-Motherwell

“My first recollection of Brian Laudrup was the opening day of the season 94/95 when we played at Ibrox and it was 1-1.

“We’d been playing for an hour with 10 men because Rab Shannon had got sent off early.

“We got a corner in the last minute of the game and Alex McLeish had sent everybody up to try and win the game.

“The ball got played into the box, it got headed clear to the edge of the box, Brian Laudrup picked it up and ran the full length of the field, slipped it into big Duncan Ferguson and he scored in the last minute to beat us 2-1.

“The other recollection was again at Ibrox and involved Jamie Dolan, God rest his soul.

“He got to the byline went to cross, Jamie dived in to block the cross and Laudrup pulled it back, Jamie sprung up, Laudrup went to cross it again with his left foot, Jamie dived in, he pulled it back and then for the third time Laudrup went to cross it, Jamie’s dived in again and Laudrup then drifted past him.

“Honestly, Jamie got pelters for that after the game!

“The thing about Brian Laudrup is he was such a tall guy and the ability he had when he had the ball at his feet, running at you at pace, he was almost unplayable.

“He was an exceptional player.

“You knew you were going to be up against it when you played against him.

“When he signed for Rangers I think everybody knew he was a quality player having played in Italy.

“He was such an exceptional talent it was one of those things where on a Saturday morning if you knew you were playing and playing right-back and he was left-wing you were going to be in for a torrid time.

“Back in the day that would be the main aim to go and try and hit him early because you could tackle in those days.

“Go and give him a wee warning and say, ‘Look, if you’re going to give me a torrid time I’m going to try and catch you and make it a wee bit easier for myself.’

“But he was some player, he actually took a few hefty tackles but still got back up.”

BRIAN IRVINE - Ex-Aberdeen captain

“Thankfully he was never a through the middle guy, I was a centre back so it was more the full-backs like Stewart McKimmie who had to deal with him.

“But obviously he’d come into your area.

“It was a bit like Gascoigne, you just couldn’t get near him.

READ MORE: Rangers hero Paul Gascoigne was an enigmatic genius but what was he like to play against?

“You forget how good a player he was and how strong he made Rangers.

“When you played against someone like Laudrup you just knew it was going to be a tough game with his ability; it was almost as if the ball was stuck to his foot.

“People often use that as a cliche saying but it was so true with him.

“Wherever he moved the ball went with him and it was almost impossible to get the ball off him.

“If he tried to take you on there is a fair chance he was going to get by you.

“When you played against him you realised how special he was.

“Being as tall as he was, you didn’t expect that skill.

“If he moved from right to left without a ball that would be ok but he actually moved the ball with him and it stayed within his control.

“He didn’t knock the ball to the right or the left and you had to chase after it, it was literally stuck to his foot.

“In the winger positions you’d want a midfielder to go and help the full-back or one of the centre backs to double up to try and cover but invariably he’d just have two of you to beat so I don’t know what the answer was.

“If he was at his peak and at his best he basically was unstoppable.

Rangers Review: Brian Irvine (right) holds off Laudrup during a Rangers v SFL Select match at Ibrox in 2007 Brian Irvine (right) holds off Laudrup during a Rangers v SFL Select match at Ibrox in 2007

“The only good thing was the last time I played against Brian was in the 9-in-a-row celebrations for Rangers in a Scottish League select or whatever it was in 2007.

“Thankfully most players you were up against like Mark Hateley for example, he wasn’t quite as dangerous as he had been in his day, obviously I wasn’t either because I’d retired but Brian was as good as he was when he was a player!

“He was a good down to earth opponent, he wasn’t somebody you thought was a big-headed guy at that, he was a nice guy."

COLIN MILLER - Ex-Hearts and Dunfermline

“Goodness me, for some reason, for every manager that I played for I had to do the man-marking jobs on him.

“You can imagine trying to pick Brian Laudrup up.

“In all the times that I played against him, he never shook my hand once.

“I went up to shake hands and he just walked past me.

“Maybe, because I tried to kick lumps out of him, I don't know.

“The first time I played against Laudrup was at Ibrox and I couldn't believe the size of him.

“He was possibly about six feet one but what a player he was for Rangers.

“If he got past you, you were never getting back to get another bite at him.”

DYLAN KERR - Ex-Kilmarnock

“Best player I’ve ever played against.

“Brian Laudrup was just an athlete, his physique was different class.

“I remember my first game at Ibrox, I’m in the tunnel and Ally McCoist says to me, ‘Wee man, I’ll get you your ticket back to England after the game.’

“I said, ‘What for?’

“He said, ‘Because Brian’s going to fucking torture you.’

“Coisty still reminds me to this day whenever I speak to him or WhatsApp him and we always have a chuckle about that.

Rangers Review: Laudrup in action against Kilmarnock at Ibrox in 1997 Laudrup in action against Kilmarnock at Ibrox in 1997

“The thing that was different between Brian and a lot of other wingers was he was always one step ahead of you in thinking before he got the ball, he was just so quick.

“That’s very difficult as a defender because you’re trying to second guess what he’s going to do.

“He’d come inside and he was away before you even turned.

“His physique and his upper body strength made him quick.

“He wasn’t quick as in sprinting quick, he was quick in terms of power.

“The thing I learned from it from a coaches point of view when I get players like that in any team I coach, I tell them to go to the gym and work on their body strength.

“Their shoulders, their arms and work on becoming quicker through power not quicker through being quick.

“His power of movement. I can't think of anybody with that ability to be one step ahead.

“You had to make sure you had to guess what he was going to do and seven times out of ten you never could because he was always quicker, he always had the edge on you.

“The third time I played against him I kind of worked him out.

“So basically instead of going close to him and trying to win the ball, I’d actually let him have the ball and be like, ‘Now you’ve got to beat me.’

“Even my mates when they came to watch me said, ‘Fuck me! He gave you a torrid afternoon!’ and he did because he was that good.”


“The one match that springs to mind is when we played Rangers in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

“He’s obviously one player you think could win Rangers a game having played them in the league.

“He floated around a lot, he was a bit like Jack Grealish or Mason Mount nowadays.

“He could not be in a game for 20 minutes just playing nice and simple and then all of a sudden he’d do something pure magic.

“You couldn’t get near him and you could be 1-0 down, 2-0 down within the space of two minutes.

“For me, he was a very upright player, he was like the American 200m runner Michael Johnson.

“They used to say he had like an ironing board in his back because he was that upright but boy could he run.

“Laudrup was very similar, he wasn’t like a sort of Allan Wells type muscular guy, he was six foot but he looked a lot taller.

“He wasn’t stooped over or had that running style that made him look fast or small.

“He was so elegant you could say, like a cruise liner.

“One minute he was nice and steady, next minute he was doing like 20 miles an hour running with the ball.

“You basically had to go tight with him, whereas usually, people would say to get tight to the player just as the ball’s arriving that wasn’t good enough for him.

“You had to get close to him and sort of put the player off from passing him the ball.

“So it was basically, ‘I can’t pass to him because that defender’s too tight.’

“Whereas Laudrup probably said, ‘I don’t care how tight they are, give me the ball.’

“His first touch was probably better than anybody that’s around today.

Rangers Review: Laudrup opens the scoring for Rangers in their 5-1 Scottish Cup final win over Hearts at Hampden in 1996 Laudrup opens the scoring for Rangers in their 5-1 Scottish Cup final win over Hearts at Hampden in 1996

“I think it was a case of if he was on the ball everybody had to be on their toes and get cover around whoever is on him one-to-one.

“So basically if Laudrup gets on the ball, make sure everyone is covering that player because he will go past him at some point.

“And then it was a case of everybody move across, leave your man, cover that area and hopefully he’ll pass the ball before he beats two or three of you.

“You want him picking the ball up as far away from your goal as possible.

“People talk about parking the bus and everybody getting behind the ball, you can do it when they receive the ball in their own half but when they're receiving the ball on your 18-yard box there’s not much space behind to park a bus.

“You had to be wary of when to tackle and not to tackle, to stand up, move your feet quickly, block him off, use your body, don’t let him get half a yard on you because he was really strong when using his upper body as well.

“He could manipulate the ball so his body was in between.

“Typical of what you tell young kids now as a coach to get your body in between the defender and the ball and Laudrup was a master of it.”