Philippe Clement is, in the modern argot, properly big. He’s 6’3” of course but it’s not just his height that makes him an imposing figure.

The Belgian - sometimes affable, sometimes acerbic, sometimes in the same sentence - commands instant respect but not fear.

The Rangers manager doesn’t intimidate or bully. He’s far too smart and civilised to adopt that approach. He motivates players by showing them how to maximise their talent and not accept second best. He persuades them to achieve rather than force them. And he always has their back.

Nor does he resort to soundbites or scathing put-downs when dealing with the media. Leading questions looking for tomorrow’s headline are easily swatted away. You sense him inwardly laughing at futile attempts to catch him out. Occasionally there’s a rueful grin before he gently chides those foolish enough to provoke him. He’s never rude.

In the flesh, you feel his presence, his intensity, but he’s also friendly, unassuming, charming. He exudes charisma and gravitas in equal measure. You are left in no doubt - this is a big man in every sense.

He doesn’t talk much about his formative years or boast about his academic achievements but he has a formidable intellect. Which isn’t surprising when you look at his upbringing.

His parents Jean and Marie Louise were teachers and the family home in Antwerp was a cultured middle-class environment where serious learning and an interest in world affairs was encouraged. As expected, Philippe - and his sisters Anne and Sophie - were all bright and excelled at school from an early age.

In the normal scheme of things he should have become an academic rather than a footballer but he was strong and athletic and loved the game. At just six years old he joined the academy of local club Beerschot and showed early promise.

However, his passion for the game didn’t distract him from his studies. He was a brilliant student at the Royal Athenaeum of Antwerp and graduated with high marks.

As an ambitious young man, he wanted to become a lawyer in the event he didn’t make it in football. After turning professional with Beerschot he enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Antwerp.

He found a way to balance his studies with football and got a law degree in 1997. That wasn’t enough for him. He had a ferocious appetite for knowledge and studied for another two years before graduating with a highly prized Masters in Law.

At just 25, his first-class mind had opened a door that would give him access to a distinguished career in law, politics, academia or business. He had also become probably the best-educated footballer on the planet.

The following year he completed a postgrad diploma in sports management from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Again that wasn’t enough. He turned his focus to learning new languages and became fluent in Dutch, French, English and German.

Although he’d been immersed in studies, it didn’t harm his football development. As a player, he won 10 major honours. He spent a decade at Brugge and became a club legend. He also represented Belgium at international level, making his debut in 1998 and played in the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, earning 38 caps.

By any standards, it was a fine career in the game. Next on this go-getter’s to-do list was management.

The only downside to his remarkable accomplishments was the toll it took on his home life. He had three children with first wife but the marriage ended when he moved into coaching. She had expected to spend more time with her husband once he stopped playing and enjoy quiet weekends together. There was no chance of that happening.

He approached this new career with the same, if not more, drive that had made him such a high achiever - though drive seems to be an inadequate word to describe the fire in him to succeed.

Additional reading

Brainwashing, smiles & psychology: How Clement tells his Rangers story with ex-assistant 

Meet Philippe Clement: A workaholic, proven-winner according to those who know him

Inside Philippe Clement's appointment and why Rangers turned to Belgian - Chris Jack

He split from his former wife but they have remained on good terms. Philippe found love again with Isabelle Bauwmans who understood his fierce ambition. They have been in a relationship for a decade and she became his second wife in 2021. She lives with him in Glasgow and embraces his passion for football. She knows she married a perfectionist workaholic and accepts that he needs time to work with players.

In a newspaper interview in Antwerp, Clement said:

“Glasgow is very beautiful. My wife is here with me and we have visited wonderful places in the Highlands. But it doesn't have that big of an impact on me. Because in essence, it is only about one thing at Rangers - making a team better and winning matches. I don't do this job to take a holiday somewhere.

“They can put me in Siberia, it doesn't matter. I'm always working, I'm at it seven days a week. But I am happy that my wife feels happy here.”

He began coaching with Brugge’s youngsters in 2011 then became assistant coach of the first team and twice served as interim manager. In 2017, he left Brugge to take charge of Waasland-Beveren before moving to Genk where he led them to the Belgian Pro League title in 2019. He returned to Brugge later that year and won two more titles in 2020 and 2021. He also reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League in both seasons.

In January 2022, he made his first move abroad, joining Monaco in Ligue 1. The team were struggling in the bottom half of the table. Under his guidance, they got a third-place finish but the following season internal strife at the club led to a parting of the ways.

He joined Rangers in October last year and it’s already clear that his meticulous approach is working. In just a few months he’s revitalised a team that was struggling badly under his predecessor Michael Beale and destined for a barren season.

When he arrived in Govan the Light Blues were seven points adrift of Celtic in the title race - now they’re two points ahead of their great rivals. The League Cup also sits in the Ibrox trophy room and his side topped their Europa League group after a historic win in the final tie at Real Betis.

A team that was being booed off the pitch now gets standing ovations.

Yet he insists there’s much more to come from his squad. You just know he won’t ever settle for mediocrity. That’s why Rangers fans adore him and have given him their full backing. Even Celtic-minded pundits are, perhaps grudgingly, praising the professionalism and intelligence he’s shown.

He’ll be 50 next month, nearing peak time for a manager. He’s grabbed life and not wasted a minute of those five decades. Only a fool would believe that he’ll slow down in the coming years.

He doesn’t just embrace challenge, he needs it. It’s hard-wired into his psyche.

His unique attributes won’t have been missed by the glamour clubs in England and further afield. He ticks every box imaginable - razor-sharp mind, superb man-management skills, voracious work ethic, multi-lingual communication skills - to join that elite band of managers wanted by the game’s giants.

Dossiers on him will already be filling up with plus points from those astute enough to recognise a major talent.

Is he properly big? Oh yes. Rangers fans should enjoy him while they can.