TREVOR FRANCIS rarely has a need to feel sheepish when reflecting on his playing career. After all, when you’ve scored the winning goal in a European Cup final, earned more than 50 caps for your country and held a record transfer fee, there are plenty of positives to talk about.

It is only when in the company of Rangers fans, then, that the man who became the first £1million player when he signed for Nottingham Forest before scoring the goal that made them European champions, has cause to feel slightly awkward.

“I feel a little bit embarrassed that I’m held in such high esteem by Rangers fans,” he admits during a chat to promote his new autobiography, One In A Million.

HeraldScotland: Winning goalscorer Trevor Francis with the 1979 European CupWinning goalscorer Trevor Francis with the 1979 European Cup

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“Whenever I meet them they’re always so decent with me. And I keep thinking to myself, 'well, I didn’t do much there'. I could have contributed so much more.”

It comes as a surprise to the 64 year-old that his stay was only six months – “I was sure it was a bit longer than that” – after his former Sampdoria team-mate Graeme Souness asked him to join him in Glasgow in September 1987.

Francis was used only sparingly but still chalked up a few memories that he recounts in the book, including scoring in the penalty shoot-out in the League Cup final win over Aberdeen and playing in the chaotic Old Firm game that led to four players appearing in court. He departed for QPR the following March but that period in Scottish football still resonates with him.

“It was too short but incredibly enjoyable,” he adds. “I still have lovely memories of my time in Glasgow and I always will be a big follower of Rangers.

“I have such huge respect for Graeme. He’s been such a good friend and always will be. But I still think I could have done so much more for Rangers than I was able to show. He brought me over primarily to play in Europe but I felt I was underused and would have liked to have played more often."

It wasn’t all positive. The scourge of sectarianism visited Francis and his family, a culture shock to someone unaccustomed to the Glasgow way of life. In the book he writes about being put off buying a house in a development in Bothwell as it was “for Catholics”, and a young fan being scolded by his dad for asking for an autograph with a green pen.

“I felt it was worthy of mention in the book. If things like that were a surprise to me, then I’m sure it will be a surprise to a lot of people who read it. I’m sure Scottish people might be thinking, 'why is he mentioning that?' as it won’t be new to them. But I was very surprised about all of the stuff at the time.”

Francis left Ibrox without winning a league title but can still claim to be one of the architects of Rangers’ subsequent nine-in-a-row success. Souness had been appointed Ibrox manager while the pair were still together at Sampdoria and leant heavily on his friend’s recommendations, including Terry Butcher and Chris Woods, as he looked to create a squad from scratch.

“It was nice to have played a part in that from the very, very start. Graeme sent one of the old Liverpool scouts to watch Rangers before he had taken over to see what would be needed. And the message came back that he would need nine players.

HeraldScotland: Trevor Francis is presented with a Sampdoria strip in 2012Trevor Francis is presented with a Sampdoria strip in 2012

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“I remember we were resting in our hotel room ahead of a game against Napoli and we were discussing different signing possibilities for Rangers. So I felt I played a small part in what he would go on to achieve in Scotland.”

It was Francis who suggested to Sampdoria that they should sign Souness from Roma and the pair have been friends ever since. Debate over Scotland’s best ever player tends to be a straight shoot-out between Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish but Francis feels Souness deserves to be in the equation, too.

“He was a very, very good midfield player. It’s hard for me to say as an Englishman where Graeme ranks overall but I think if you ask anyone in England for names of great Scottish players then most people would mention Souness alongside Dalglish and Law. Graeme belongs in that category.”

Francis has returned recently to media work, having lost his enthusiasm for it following the death of his wife, Helen, a few years ago. Italian football remains his predominant passion but he also retains an interest in the Scottish game, especially since Steven Gerrard’s appointment as Rangers manager.

“That’s an unbelievable first job for Gerrard to have in management,” he added. “And he’s doing pretty well so far. I think a lot of it will depend on how much financial backing he receives. He’s got them up to second place but there’s still a considerable way to go before they can close in on Celtic.

“But Gerrard is doing well and I like his attitude. He’s very calm and transmits that to his players. You don’t see him ranting and raving too much on the touchline. He’s a good guy and I hope he does well there at a special club.”

- One in a Million: The Trevor Francis Story, with Keith Dixon, Pitch Publishing, £19.99