WHEN George Edmundson described Wednesday night as one of the best of his life, the smile and sincerity with which the message was delivered reaffirmed the sentiment.

In the heat of battle in Braga, the man known as ‘The Fridge’ kept his cool as Rangers progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League.

The journey that has taken Steven Gerrard’s side from the first qualifying round to just one tie away from the quarter-finals has been remarkable. It is almost as compelling as Edmundson’s own path.

The selection of Edmundson ahead of Nikola Katic was a significant call from boss Gerrard, yet the gamble paid off as the Englishman rose to the challenge and repaid the faith of the man that changed his life and his career last summer.

A misplaced pass inside the opening seconds was a sign of the nerves, and perhaps adrenaline, in Edmundson’s system. From then on, he barely put a foot wrong.

There were no hard feelings between Katic and the man that took his shirt as, alongside Connor Goldson, Edmundson produced his finest display on an evening that will live long in the memory.

Edmundson said: “All the centre backs have a really good relationship and we know we’re all fighting for two spots and whoever gets them spots, we’re not the type of guys to be bitter.

"Niko came up to me and wished me all the best, told me to do what I normally do and when Niko plays I do the same for him. There’s no hard feelings, we want each other do well.

“It was great, one of the best days of my life and best game I’ve been involved in. I found out a couple of days before that there was a chance I would be playing because the gaffer said ‘Be ready, you never know you might be playing’.

“I get more excited than nervous. I just want to get out and show people what I can do. The challenge was different to the Scottish Premiership in that it was more technical and positional as opposed to winning big headers.

“But I felt we stepped up to it well and on a personal level I thought I did alright. We got a clean sheet so it wasn’t bad and Connor is massive for me.

“He took me under his wing and helps me every day. He’s a top professional and he helps me through games so I’m really fortunate to have him by my side.”

Just a year on from facing Bury as he learned his trade with Oldham, Edmundson shut out Braga – the top scorers in the competition going into the second legs – on their own patch to ensure Ryan Kent’s strike proved decisive.

Rangers had travelled to Portugal with a narrow advantage following their incredible comeback at Ibrox and while many fancied them to score, few would have backed them to keep a clean sheet. They did both.

The blueprint from Gerrard was spot on, while the execution of it was almost perfect. Had Rangers not squandered a handful of chances, the final result would have been even more emphatic.

There was not a failure in the side and Edmundson stood up to be counted. Greater challenges now await.

Edmundson said: “I remember losing 3-1 to Bury a year ago - and I gave a goal away as well - so it’s quite a contrast from Braga’s stadium to Gigg Lane, although the atmosphere at Gigg Lane was good with the Oldham fans.

“It’s still quite a turnaround but I feel like I’ve still got a lot more to give and hopefully I can keep improving and you never know where I’ll end up but I’m not getting too ahead of myself.

“I hope this is the start of a run in the team but obviously everyone is competing for places so I’m sure whoever the gaffer picks will get the job done.

“When we play in Europe and in the league then it’s two different challenges. We stepped up in Braga on Wednesday and need to make sure we do it domestically.”

The draw for the last 16 will be made on Friday afternoon and while the list of potential opponents is star-studded, every tie will be relished rather than feared by Rangers.

Nobody at Ibrox will get ahead of themselves about what lies ahead for Gerrard’s side but the European expedition continues to inspire.

Edmundson said: “I was a Manchester City fan but never got the chance to watch them in Europe because I was always playing football so European football is a new experience. I always had training in midweek when City were playing in Europe. My dad’s a Bolton fan and used to take me to a few of their games and I watched them when Jay-Jay Okocha was playing.

“But I remember when Rangers got to the UEFA Cup final at the City of Manchester Stadium. I was only 10-years old but I remember reading about it in the newspapers.”