It was a baking hot day on Edmiston Drive. Two thousand or more Rangers supporters had congregated around crush barriers outside the front steps of Ibrox waiting impatiently for the latest big gun in a line of heavy artillery to be rolled out.

A policeman stepped forward to advise the crowd not to push for fear of an accident among the expectant throng.

Inside was Paul Gascoigne, one of the most gifted but flawed players of his generation. He’d recently had his hair dyed blond as had some of those who had come to see him. The doors to Ibrox swung open and out he came to a roar that could hardly have been louder than had he just scored the winner against Celtic, it was a sound he would become used to for most of the next three seasons.

If this was the official unveiling it was nevertheless a £4.3m transfer that had been months in the making. Sergio Cragnotti, the Lazio president, had let the cat out of the bag to Italian journalists following a 40-minute meeting at his offices in London six weeks earlier.

“The Gascoigne era for us is over,” said Cragnotti on May 25. “He is a Rangers player now. From now on he will only come to Rome as a tourist.”

Len Lazarus, one half of Gascoigne’s management team, echoed those words confirming his client had signed a three-year, £15,000-per-week deal that made him the best-paid player in Scotland. Gazza celebrated by buying an £87,000 BMW and a Jaguar for his dad out of his signing-on fee.

The ink may have long since dried on the contract when Gazza met his new team-mates, but that did not dampen enthusiasm for his arrival. There was a training session to be conducted that afternoon but he slipped on Stuart McCall’s No.4 jersey and a pair of shorts and went out to meet the supporters anyway.

After a quick stroll during which Gazza shook hands, signed autographs and was serenaded with chants of ‘There’s only one Paul Gascoigne,” he retreated inside.

In the Rangers dressing room, the players prepared to meet him. Ally McCoist already knew the 28-year-old, they had met a few weeks earlier in a bar in Las Vegas where they had spent the night at a $50 all you can eat in the company of Walter Smith, the Rangers manager. Trevor Steven knew him from England squads while Gordon Durie had been a team-mate during Gascoigne’s final year at Tottenham, albeit a season in which he had undergone rehabilitation following surgery on his knee. For most of the rest of the squad this was their initial meeting.

Stephen Wright, newly arrived from Aberdeen, had been Rangers’ first official summer signing and remembers being grateful that the spotlight had been deflected from him.

“I had signed on the Friday and then he signed on the Monday, so I managed to get a wee bit of press before he arrived and then it just kind of went crazy,” recalls Wright. “I was actually okay with that. As a young player at that time, I had watched his career. I was a bit starstruck as he walked through the changing rooms. [But] he was only in the changing room a few minutes and he was one of the guys.”

The duration of Wright’s time at Rangers would mirror Gascoigne’s almost exactly, the former severing the cruciate ligament in one of his knees against Juventus in a Champions League match in November, then sustaining the same injury again as he sought to step up his recovery a year later. Gascoigne knew the injury well having torn his ligament playing for Spurs in the 1991 FA Cup final. Wright, 23 when he arrived at Ibrox, says Gazza would joke with him that his injury was much worse than his young team-mate’s.

The two would play snooker on a Tuesday or Thursday night in a nearby sports club to wile away the hours, with Wright recuperating and Gascoigne not one for sitting still for too long.

“One night we went to play snooker and I took my neighbour. He was a Cockney lad and a big Spurs fan. He was absolutely over the moon because he was going to play snooker with Gazza. Gazza got completely steaming. We ended going back to my house to stay and my neighbour took him next door to introduce him to his wife but it was about midnight, one in the morning, and his wife was in bed. She woke up and there's Gazza at the bottom of the bed and [my neighbour was saying] 'this is Paul Gascoigne I want to introduce you to him'. Wee things like that, he just loved all that stuff.”

Neil Murray, Gascoigne’s fellow midfielder for a season at Ibrox, recalls similar mischief.

“He was very active. He would appear at training at 10 o'clock with big waders on and you'd be like 'where have you been?' and he would say 'ach, I've been fishing since six this morning'. Sometimes when we were going to Aberdeen we would stop on Paisley Road and get supplies. Chocolate bars or crisps for the road up to Aberdeen. And [one day] Gazza never got off the bus and we got back on and he had whipped out a hamper from the shelf above his seat with caviar, cheese and biscuits and all that stuff in it.”

The target at Rangers that summer was an eighth league title on the spin and there was an air of expectation on the streets of Govan. David Murray, the Rangers owner, who had been circumspect throughout the periods of intense speculation about Gascoigne’s potential signing, suddenly sounded the bugle at the press conference.

“This deal is just a continuation of our policy that has created the monster called Rangers,” trumpeted Murray. “If the ground was looking like going all season ticket I wouldn’t hesitate to put another tier on the stand.”

Subsequent years would reveal the hubris of Murray’s boasts but back then Rangers dominated the landscape in Scotland and, in that first season especially, no one personified their grip on the game more than Gascoigne, who ended the season as player of the year with league and Scottish Cup medals to boot.

The game that epitomised his contribution to the cause was the 3-1 win over Aberdeen that sealed the title. Roy Aitken’s side had scored first only for Gascoigne to equalise and then take charge - scoring twice more - with the sides seemingly heading for a draw that would have narrowed the gap to a point ahead of a chasing Celtic.

“It was a scorching hot day,” says Wright, who watched from the stands. “We struggled to get over the line. By all accounts, Alan McLaren said something to him on the pitch, 'come on, Gazza, we need you' and that's when he stepped up to the plate and took the game by the scruff of the neck. Looking at him as a player, he was absolutely fantastic. You just knew that it was a different level of player you were playing with.”

Murray is similarly effusive when he recalls the influence of a player who ultimately curtailed his minutes on the pitch that season. By the end of the campaign, Murray had agreed to join Sion, despite the offer of a contract extension from Smith.

“He made it look easy and it's not an easy position to play,” says Murray, who works for football analytics company InStat. “Back then football wasn't as fast as it is today, that's clear, but Gazza was one of these players that could probably flourish in today's game as well because he was very sharp. Everything about him was done with precision and pace.

“He had a big personality and he had a big heart and that's something that people overlook because they don't think about it so much and they think about other things.”

Wright, now head of the youth academy at Dundee, concurs: “If you were to ask him for anything at all he would give you it. Myself and Charlie Miller used to ask for a shot of his big BMW every so often and he would just give you the keys. I would ask him for it to go up to see my in-laws in Aberdeen. I would take it on the Friday and bring it back on the Monday morning and he would be fine with that.”

Subsequent revelations would demonstrate that Gascoigne had clashed repeatedly with his pregnant partner Sheryl during his time in Glasgow, remaining in Scotland while she stayed at their home in Hertfordshire and ignoring her for two-weeks after the birth of their son, Regan. She would join him soon after when he splashed out again, this time £515,000 on a new house with six bedrooms and a swimming pool in Renfrewshire, but it was a relationship doomed to fail and, as has been much documented, that it did so was all of his own making following his descent into serious addiction.

Around the club, he was a different person. His demons briefly tamed by the presence of team-mates or the chance to play football. He would win another title a year later before losing form and leaving prior to the end of the ill-fated 10- in-a-row season.

“I fell in love with Rangers right from the beginning,” wrote Gascoigne many years later. And the club, his team-mates and the fans were equally smitten. Warts and all.