WHEN a teenage Steven Gerrard approached Mark Walters many years ago to quiz him about playing for Liverpool the former Rangers winger immediately sensed he was an ambitious and intelligent young man who would go far in the game.

So the midfielder’s subsequent success, both as a player and as a manager, since their encounter has come as no surprise to the former Ibrox favourite.

Nor has the fact that Gerrard has, even though he has only spent a season-and-a-half in the dugout and has still to lift a trophy, been touted as a potential successor to Jurgen Klopp at Anfield in the future.

However, Walters believes it is imperative that the England great lands silverware in Scotland if he is to take over from German.

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“I met Steven funnily enough when he was at Lilleshall when he was a young lad,” he said at a Premier Sports media event at Hampden yesterday ahead of the Rangers v Stranraer William Hill Scottish Cup match on Friday night.

“He made a point of asking me all about Liverpool. He’d have been a teenager at the time. He had a lot of injuries as a young boy. I think I was at Swindon Town and recovering from a knee injury.

“I remember him mentioning how Liverpool was and asking what I thought of it. Not all young players are like that. I knew he was a good player, but for him to come up and talk to me said a lot. I’d have been in my 30s then. You could see he wanted to learn. He’s always been a man who wanted to learn and do well.

“I knew Steven would get an opportunity to become a manager. Players of that calibre generally get one. I’m not surprised that he’s done so well (at Rangers). He’s got some good backroom staff around him. To change it around so quickly, that’s been a real badge of honour.”

Asked about the prospect of Gerrard replacing Klopp at Liverpool one day, Walters said: “First and foremost, he needs to prove himself at Rangers. That means winning trophies. He’s done brilliantly so far, but you get judged by how many trophies there. But it’s so far so good.

“Obviously Klopp is managing the world champions at the moment so I don’t see him leaving for now. But long-term, possibly. Liverpool fans love Gerrard still to this day so he’ll be a definite option whenever Klopp decides to leave. But I definitely think it would enhance his chances if he won something here.

“I don’t remember Liverpool getting a manager who’d never won a trophy. Nor do Rangers normally, frankly. So I think he’s got to win something first.

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Walters, who won three Scottish titles and two League Cups during the three-and-a-half seasons that he spent at Rangers before following Graeme Souness to Liverpool in 1991, is confident that day isn’t far away.

Gerrard’s side is now just two points behind Neil Lennon’s team at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership table with a game in hand against St Johnstone still to play following their 2-1 win at Parkhead last month.

"Will Rangers win the league?” said Walters. “Without a doubt - although I've been saying that for a while now. But it's looking a lot better and I am pleased for the club and the lads. I've been taking a lot of stick down in Birmingham in the last 10 years. So it's nice to see them compete again and challenge Celtic.

"I didn't think the Rangers win at Celtic Park was a surprise. I watched the Betfred Cup final and I was very impressed with the performance. All they needed that day was a goalscorer to put the chances away. What it gave Rangers was a psychological boost to say that they can go and win at Celtic.

"I wasn't surprised that they won and I was pleased that they got that monkey off their back and can now push on.”

Walters played at Rangers during an era when Souness lavished millions on some of England’s leading players. He knows the game has changed beyond recognition since those heady days and accepts the Ibrox club can no longer pay the same transfer fees and salaries as they do down south.

Still, he was pleased to see his old club spend £7 million on Ryan Kent in the summer and believes the former Liverpool winger, who scored in the Celtic triumph, will enable them to win their first league since way back in 2011 come May.

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"Kent is a good player with a lot of potential and £7million could look cheap in a few years' time,” he said. "He is well regarded down in England and can progress a lot. It was a big fee for Scottish football but he can justify that, and Rangers need to sign players like him to compete.

"Kent's goal against Celtic was a great striker and he will take a lot of confidence from it. Going forward, he could be a game-changer.

"When you sign guys of Kent's quality, it means that other players in the squad know they need to keep their standard up. If you don't perform, you lose your place. As a footballer, that's the biggest motivation you can get.

"The competition for places is very good at Rangers when you see guys like Jermain Defoe come on. He scores goals and is one of the reasons why Morelos has done well too. You need competition if you are going to do well as a club.”

Premier Sports is the home of knockout football in Scotland, broadcasting the William Hill Scottish Cup and the Betfred Cup. Premier Sports will screen live and exclusive coverage of Rangers v Stranraer (Fri 17 Jan) in the Scottish Cup on Friday night. Available on Sky, Virgin TV and via the Premier Player. Visit www.premiersports.com for details.