Only James Tavernier will know what was going through his head and only he will be able to put into words the concoction of emotions from another defining moment in his Rangers career. Time will tell how crucial it really was.

Tavernier placed the ball on the penalty spot, took a few steps back and composed himself with a couple of deep breaths. Like he had done around an hour earlier, he stuttered on his run-up and connected with his right foot. This time, he hit the back of the net rather than the woodwork.

The ball was collected and returned to centre as arms were thrown in the air, first to get the crowd going and then to cajole his team-mates. Tavernier had rescued a point for Rangers but the recovery job was not complete. Within minutes, he had picked out Danilo at the back post and Ibrox erupted. Victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat, the seemingly inevitable chorus of boos and abuse had been replaced by relief and belief.

For Philippe Clement, it was never in doubt, even after seeing the right-back miss from 12 yards in the closing seconds of the first half. Tavernier is the nominated penalty taker within the squad but he could have chosen to pass on the responsibility if he felt he wasn’t the best person to take the second spot kick. Clement would have had no issue with that situation but it was the mark of the man that Tavernier stepped up and converted at a time when the game – and perhaps even the Premiership title – were on the line and on the brink.

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Clement labelled the stirring, unexpected comeback as a ‘reference game’ for this side as he gained knowledge and insight into how these players would react in the face of adversity. There would have been few within Ibrox who would have believed it would turn out like it did. Clement was one and Tavernier was another.

“It is a big step forward for me and in that way, Tav was an example today,” Clement said as he made sure to praise the contribution of his captain. “Missing the penalty, getting the stick because of that, that moment you can lose confidence, you can go down, you can stop taking responsibility. But he took the second penalty, he scored it and afterwards, he gave the assist for the second goal.

“I want to see a lot of players with that mentality in my dressing room. I want to see everybody with that mentality in my dressing room because then we are going to make an amazing season.”

It was an afternoon that perhaps encapsulated Tavernier the player, person and captain. For so much of the game, he wasn’t at his best. When it mattered most, it was he who came to the fore.

It is hard to think of another figure in Rangers’ recent history that has been put down as often but continued to stand up, that is as derided by some but lauded by others. It makes his reputation and his stature difficult to sum up as the positives and negatives are filtered into their respective columns. Those closest to Tavernier are the ones who appreciate him the most, and perhaps that is all that matters to the man himself.

He has captained Rangers to the most significant league title in their history and walked out of the tunnel in a European final. He has scored more than 100 goals for the club, is just months away from a testimonial and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. For some, it is still not enough and will never be enough.

Steven Gerrard saw all he needed to in Tavernier’s personality and performances to hand him the armband five years ago. Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Michael Beale and now Clement have opted not to reverse that decision.

“I do not see a reason to change that,” Clement said when asked about the skipper on the day that he was unveiled at Ibrox. “I need to focus on many other things at the moment and step by step need to look at what is best for the club, but I do not see a reason for the moment to change that.”

Tavernier is the captain and the leader but his status as a legend remains up for debate. Like all of those heroes of yesteryear whose names his own is etched alongside, he is judged on medals, is defined by successes and failures.

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In that regard, Tavernier has not lived up to expectations and one league title and one Scottish Cup is not enough of a haul to merit a place alongside the finest players to have pulled on the jersey. It has not been for a lack of trying, though, and few have done more in recent seasons to attempt to inspire Rangers to domestic glories. Tavernier is far from faultless in the litany of failures, but he has been let down by the collective more often than he has been the single point of deficiency.

At times, he has been damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. When he has been front and centre after a series of big game losses, supporters have turned on him for the answers – ones about learning from it, improving and moving on – that have been repeated so often over the years. When he hasn’t been behind the microphones, he has been accused of shirking his responsibility as captain.

Tavernier has never been one to be unduly concerned about what is said or written about him. Away from Ibrox and Auchenhowie, he is a husband and father to three young children and has enough going on in his life to worry about what is being debated on social media. He cannot dismiss the conversations, but they do not have a negative impact on him.

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It takes a certain kind of individual to play for Rangers, and an even more unique one to captain the club. Tavernier has his fair share of scar tissue from his eight years in Glasgow but the thick skin he developed as a youngster growing up in a Leeds council estate – where the family home was burgled - acts as a shield for whatever unfriendly fire comes his way from a fickle Rangers support.

His mother, Bernie, remains his inspiration to this day. Tavernier’s parents split up when he was just four years old and neither he nor brother Marcus, a Premier League player with Bournemouth, would be where they are today if it was not for the guidance or selflessness of their mum.

Tavernier has always been a figure to look up to, one that inspires others around him. It was during his time in the Leeds academy that Marcus first watched his brother play, the youngster kicking a ball around with the other siblings on the Astro next to where his elder was taking his tentative early steps in the game.

When the former Middlesbrough winger was released by Newcastle United in his teens, it was the arm around the shoulder and words of encouragement and motivation from his brother that kept his dreams alive. Ranting and raving are not the only ways to show leadership or compassion.

“My brother is seven years younger so it was a case of me looking after him from when I was very young,” Tavernier said recently as he reflected on his upbringing and journey in the game at another time of transition at Ibrox. “My mum gave me that mentality from a very young age. When you grow up in those kind of places, you grow up tougher mentally. I try to implement that into my kids but it’s obviously a different world now!

“Life as Rangers captain is now different too. Life is never perfect, you have your ups and downs. You have to make mistakes as that’s what makes you stronger.

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“There’s been mistakes in the past here. I’ve made mistakes here in games and if you’re a strong character, you learn from that and thrive in that environment to make yourself better. It’s a different scenario but you always try to make yourself better.”

The contract that Tavernier signed last August will take him well into his thirties. By the end of it, he will be past his best. Right now, though, his place in the team, and his importance to it, is not up for question.

His goal on Sunday was his seventh of the campaign. Some of the others – such as the equaliser in Servette that secured Champions League progression or the openers against Ross County and St Mirren – carry greater weight than others. That strike in Dingwall was, alongside his second in Paisley, a spectacular effort that few others within the group are capable of.

And that sums up Tavernier’s standing right now. At a time when so many others are failing to contribute, the Englishman is producing influential moments even when he is not playing well.

A second league medal is now a realistic ambition after Clement’s side moved to within five points of Celtic. The League Cup is just 180 minutes away and a campaign that threatened to snowball out of control under Beale now has fresh impetus with Clement in the dugout as the Belgian attempts to drive standards in his own way.

Tavernier will be integral to that process going forward and Rangers remain reliant on him, perhaps overly so. When Rangers need someone to rescue them, it is Tavernier that continues to do so more often than any of those he shares the pitch with.

Clement speaks about creating a ‘story’ with the side that he has inherited. The numbers only tell part of Tavernier’s own tale, but they will be his biggest contribution to any successes that Rangers enjoy under the latest manager that he has served during his Ibrox career.

His qualities and his character have been routinely questioned along the way. So often, he has answered his doubters. Even now, Tavernier has critics to win over.

He will know as well as anyone that medals are the only way to do just that. If a Premiership one comes this season, he will look back on that goal and that assist as defining moments, not just of the campaign but of his Rangers career.