Since I joined Rangers in 2019, I never expected to fall in love the way I have done. This is not only a great club, but a British institution.

JERMAIN Defoe came, he saw, he conquered.

The 39-year-old’s three-year stay at Rangers has come to an end but his contribution cannot be underestimated.

The legendary striker arrived at Ibrox in January 2019, initially on an 18-month loan from Bournemouth but he loved playing for Rangers so much he penned a one-year deal on the expiry of his Cherries contract in the summer of 2020.

He signed a one-year extension last summer in a move that also saw him become part of the coaching set-up under former England teammate Steven Gerrard.

Since the arrival of Giovanni van Bronckhorst however, Defoe was solely considered as a player with Roy Makaay coming in.

He’s been limited to two cameos this season, the early season defeat against Dundee United at Tannadice and a brief outing in the 3-1 win at Livingston in November.

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His recent appearances on Sky Sports as a pundit suggested his contribution in a playing capacity was coming to an end but he will forever be fondly remembered down Edmiston Drive.

The former England striker has been a breath of fresh air and someone who continually produced despite his best days being behind him.

This is a man who got it from day one.

He lived and breathed the club and carried the contented air of a man who adored being a Rangers player.

He arrived in Govan with one thing on his mind, delivering the holy grail of 55 and last season it brought a tear to a glass eye witnessing this veteran of the game explain just what it meant to win his first league title.

Speaking to Rangers TV he said: “I can’t put it into words.

“I dedicated my whole career, my whole life for these kinds of moments.

“I always knew it would happen at some point in my career. That’s the thing that’s kept me going, to be honest.

“People always ask me, ‘What keeps you going? How do you stay motivated?’, it’s for moments like this.

“Especially with this group of players, the staff, everyone that’s been involved, the people in the kitchen, the girls that do the admin, just everyone involved, it’s been a team effort.

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“It’s why you play football, for moments like this. It’s so special when you share a dressing room with these kinds of people, it’s unbelievable, it’s actually hard to find words for how I’m feeling.

“It means the world, it’s emotional. The first thing I did was facetime my mum. 55 league titles for this football club is amazing.”

This is a man who played at the very top for both club and country but winning his first-ever league title in Scotland was the pinnacle.

It highlights the pull and traditions of Rangers that a player of this calibre was blown away and speaks in such glowing terms.

Of course, he wasn’t merely brought up for one last payday. He contributed massively both on and off the pitch.

He brought Alfredo Morelos’ game onto an entirely different level and the fact the Colombian hasn’t encountered any disciplinary issues for almost three years shows you how big an impact Defoe has had on his game. Simply put, Morelos knew if he was out, he might not get back in again and you cannot help but learn from a guy who has scored 300 senior goals on the biggest stages of the game. 

You often see the term ‘things you love to see’ banded around social media by the kids today and it could not fit more perfectly than to the images of Defoe and Morelos celebrating goals together. The master and apprentice at work was a joy to behold.

Rangers Review: Defoe celebrates with Alfredo Morelos after scoring at Ibrox Defoe celebrates with Alfredo Morelos after scoring at Ibrox

And let’s not forget about the goals Defoe, himself, contributed. 32 in 74 appearances is a terrific conversion record for anyone, let alone a guy of his advanced years. During the second half of the 2018-19 season he scored eight goals in 20 games, he netted 17 goals the following season and bagged seven goals during the invincible campaign.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

As we can see in his Shot Maps above, he exceeded his xG in the previous two campaigns and if we look at his Striker Radar and how he compared with the league average, it illustrates the very special talent Rangers had at their disposal.

Rangers Review:

Of his goals last term, there are two that stand out in particular as being truly top drawer.

His strike against Livingston at Ibrox was befitting of his 300th senior goal.

He was picked out by a pinpoint James Tavernier ball before casually side-footing the ball into the corner on the volley, it was liquid football. Ruud Gullit would say "sexy".

It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing goals you’ll ever likely see and there aren’t many players capable of such technique.

Then there is the Old Firm goal to cap off a 4-1 rout of arch-rivals Celtic. The last remaining box the striker had left to tick off and he did so with aplomb.

The way he received the ball from Ianis Hagi before accelerating away and bamboozling Stephen Welsh to an extent he left the Celtic defender face down on the turf before rifling past Scott Bain into the opposite corner was world-class and his celebration afterwards showed just how much it meant to him.

Jermain Defoe will leave Rangers having accomplished what he set out to do, he will forever be remembered for helping deliver 55 and producing magical moments that’ll live long in the memories of supporters.

A true superstar of the game, the only gripe is that we never got the chance to see more of him. But what we did see was a joy to behold.