PAT NEVIN thought that tackles had gone out of fashion, until he watched Celtic’s Patrick Roberts given a retro going-over by Rangers last week.

The former Chelsea and Scotland player was at Hampden Park in his media role last Sunday to see the Celtic midfielder targeted in his side’s Scottish Cup semi-final success.

It was a throwback to the 1980s when Nevin used to evade tackles from full-backs like England’s Stuart Pearce. The former Chelsea and Everton winger admired Roberts’ bravery and is convinced that the Englishman will not be worried about facing Andy Halliday & Co six days later at Ibrox, but will relish it.

Nevin moved to England at 20 – from Clyde to Stamford Bridge – and was given a steep learning curve in an era when rough treatment was ignored by referees.

“I spoke recently to Chris Waddle and John Barnes and they agreed that wide players are more protected now,” said Nevin. “They were both great left-wingers but they joked that, in our day, right-backs were okay whereas every left-back was a psychopath.

“At Chelsea, and then Everton, I used to face Stuart Pearce all the time against Nottingham Forest and he always clattered me early on, just like Patrick Roberts got from Andy Halliday.

“But I used to ask my managers to put me on the right wing when we faced Forest because I had to show Pearce I wasn’t scared of him. You’ve got to take the hit.

“I was at Hampden last week for BBC Radio 5 and couldn’t believe what I saw Roberts having to cope with. Rangers were taking it in turns to kick him. That sort of ‘rotation’ from defenders was what they did 30 years ago.

“Halliday’s tackle was a red on its own, but Myles Beerman was also lucky not to be yellow carded twice and Emerson Hyndman had a go, too.

“That might have hurt Patrick at the time but you take it in a positive way, that your opponents are scare to death of you.

“As a winger you worry about the tackles you can’t see, but the ones you do, you ride those. More importantly, you know you’re in the defender’s heads. They will probably have picked up a booking as well.

“Then you’ve got to have the bravery go again. That’s what Patrick Roberts did at Hampden. Bravery is in-built if you’re a footballer, but if you’re smaller it means you can be targeted by bigger players.

Nevin reveals he’s never jumped out of tackle since he was 15 – because it earned him a half-time bollocking from his own skipper, Davie Moyes.

“I was playing for Celtic Boys Club against Eastercraigs,” Nevin recalls. “We were 2-0 up and they were targeting me. I saw the full-back trying to clean me out and I jumped out the way. But at half-time, Moyesie pulled me up and said: ‘Never do that, now they are in your head and know you’re scared of them. They should be scared of you.’ It was a vital lesson.”

Roberts is just 20 but Nevin is convinced that the young Englishman has matured rapidly at Parkhead since his loan from Manchester City and will not be fazed by another game against Rangers so soon.

“I think what happened at Hampden will be a positive in Patrick’s mind,” said Nevin. “He knows that he can beat them and he is a big weapon for Brendan Rodgers.

“When you play against the same guys all the time, then it’s easier for defenders to combat you. They just have to stop you, whereas a winger has to come up with something new in terms of movement.

“If you play against each other six or seven times a season, it’s a problem. But I would have thought Patrick Roberts will love going to Ibrox with the form he’s in.”