IN the days before foreign accents became de rigueur in the Ibrox dressing room, Robert Prytz was something of a rarity, a foreign player in a Rangers shirt. He liked the environment so much that he married a Scot, has two children who ''speak Scottish'' and he himself has acquired an accent that would be entirely acceptable in the debating chambers of Holyrood.

Along the way in his 22-year career, Prytz has had more stops than the Orient Express. Take a deep breath and you may finish the sentence: he has played for Malmo, Rangers, Gothenburg, Young Boys of Berne, Bayer Urdingen, Atalanta, Verona, Kilmarnock, East Fife and Pollok Juniors.

Pollok Juniors? Yes, indeed, that is where this remarkably resilient little midfield player now does his work.

At 39 (''I am not 40 till January'' he admonished when I referred to the Big F), Prytz is still turning in a very respectable 90 minutes, this time with one of the most prominent junior clubs in the country whose ground is handy for the Prytz home to the south of Glasgow. The man has done enough travelling for most people's lifetimes.

When he and his wife decided it was time to settle back in Scotland, he had a couple of games for Kilmarnock before eventually joining East Fife till the end of the 1997 season.

After that he kept himself in trim by training with Pollok and, perhaps not surprisingly, was asked if he liked the idea of playing for them. ''I thought that, as I trained with them, I might as well play for them, too,'' he says, ''and I am enjoying it very much.''

Two things should be said. First, the Prytz fitness level is still quite amazing. In fact, he would tell you, if you pushed him, that he is the same weight as he was 10 years ago. Second, don't mention the hairstyle.

Robert actually likes training, a mental attitude which was not easily detectable among many of his peers. He will qualify that with a wee joke... ''except the running...'' but the fact is that he has shown himself to be the consummate professional, and still is.

''I still have fun playing the game, I like the atmosphere in the dressing room and it is a good way of keeping fit,'' says Robert and then, perhaps, reveals the true secret of his longevity. ''It is still a learning curve.''

That is a statement from a man who has seen it, done it and done it again, yet he feels there is still room for more to be absorbed.

''I had never played at anything like junior level, not even when I was in the third division in Sweden before I moved up to Malmo.''

The main aim behind all of this is clear enough. Prytz wants to do his own thing as a coach one day. He is close to completing all his badges in Scotland and when that is done he would dearly love to get a job along those lines.

''That is really what I want to do and I would like to do it with a senior club in this country. Like everybody else who coaches, I would like to try out my own ideas. I have had a fair bit of experience.''

That is an understatement, of course, but there is nothing egotistical about the man who spent three good years with Rangers after he joined in 1982.

''I still have a soft spot for Rangers and I go to see them whenever I have the time. I am a good friend of Jonas Thern, who was at Ibrox until recently.''

Robert belonged to the Ibrox era that preceded the Souness revolution and the pay explosion that followed. Now he is playing; for virtually nothing but still gives it his best shot. ''I have scored five goals this season so far and the manager seems pleased with me. I will keep playing until the day comes when I don't enjoy it.''

He is still recognised by Ibrox supporters, naturally, but maybe a little surprisingly, also by Celtic fans. ''They come up and chat to me as well. I never had any problems in that direction. I just played football... there was nothing in it to do with religion.''

He also collected 56 caps for his country, a total that confirms a talent that was well above average. He is a Scottish fan at national level, too, but gets a little ambivalent when the Scots meet Sweden.

The confusion is understandable when his younger daughter, nine-year-old Emma, has shown such promise as an all-round athlete that she is the current Under- 13 pentathlon Scottish champion.

''We are not pushing her, she is enjoying herself and we will see in a couple of years how she is doing.''

Mum Joyce has always been into the running business, doing half marathons et al, and so the pedigree suggests that Emma and maybe 11-year-old Karen, too, will have the right genes to shine at sport.

Prytz has only a League Cup winners' medal to show for

his short stint at Ibrox, a stark reminder that it was not always

a place where prizes are


He looks not a great deal different form those days in the early eighties.

That is where you have to be careful about referring to his

hair style. The famous 'perm' isn't in fact a perm. The last time we spoke a couple of years

ago he reminded me of this forcibly.

He was at it again this time. ''Please no talk about my perm. My hair is curly. I can't do anything about it.''

What he can do is play football. He deserves his chance to show others how to do the same.