BERT Konterman’s phone started ringing faster than his famous 30 yard howitzer flew into the top corner of the Celtic net in the 2002 League Cup semi-final at Hampden after the Europa League second round qualifiers had been played last week.

Rangers and Willem II had won their matches against Lincoln Red Imps in Gibraltar and Progres Niederkorn in Luxembourg respectively by identical 5-0 scorelines and were set to face each other in the next stage of the competition.

As a former player with both the Scottish and Dutch clubs, Konterman was the obvious person to turn for an opinion about how the tie would go. Sure enough, he was soon inundated with calls from both sides of the North Sea.

How do Steven Gerrard’s side play? Do Adrie Koster’s team have a chance of going through? How do you stop Alfredo Morelos from scoring? What are Vangelis Pavlidis’s strengths? He was quickly being pumped for information from each camp.

The one-time Netherlands internationalist, who is now coach of his country’s under-19 team, enjoyed his spells in Tilburg and Glasgow and is refusing to take sides ahead of the one-off encounter in his homeland tomorrow evening. "I wish all the clubs I played for the best,” he said.

Konterman knows that Willem II and Rangers have changed beyond all recognition since his time in their colours and reckons the outcome of their third round match is just too close to call. “Willem II are working on a new chapter,” he said. “Rangers are on the way back to the very top.”

The versatile player moved to Ibrox in a £4.3m transfer from Feyenoord in 2000 at a time when his compatriot Dick Advocaat was in charge and spending huge sums on renowned international footballers.

He arrived on the same day as Fernando Ricksen was signed from AZ Alkmaar for £3.6m. Ronald De Boer joined from Barcelona in a £4.5m deal the following month. And Tore Andre Flo would soon follow in a record-breaking £12m switch from Chelsea. He sees few similarities with the current side.

“In my time, Rangers had the likes of Claudio Caniggia and Ronald de Boer,” he said. “Many players were at the end of their careers. But we had an experienced group. There are hardly any players with the same quality, who can decide a match on their own, now. The lack ingenuity and rely on passion and fight.”

Celtic had the edge over Rangers during the three years that Konterman spent in Scotland. But he still won the Premier League once and League Cup twice and thoroughly enjoyed his spell here.

“It was always a dream to one day play football in Britain and experience the passion and the atmosphere there,” he said. “The appreciation people have for players and the love they feel for a club are incredible. The finances were great for us and we played Champions League every season. ”

The 49-year-old was saddened when Rangers suffered their off-field implosion in 2012 and dropped down to the bottom tier of Scottish football. He has been heartened to see them return to the top flight and European football in the past few years.

“Many tears were shed,” he said. “It also affected me. You saw how quickly success can evaporate. The club has been working hard to get back where they were since.”

Konterman has moved into coaching since retiring from playing and had stints overseeing several Netherlands age-group teams as well as youth sides at Eredivisie clubs Twente and Zwolle.

He has been impressed with how former England midfielder Gerrard has fared as a manager and believes he should take much credit for the progress Rangers have made in the Premiership and Europa League in the past two years.

“Gerrard radiates calm and gives his players enormous confidence,” he said. “He is also very clear. Rangers can now come close in the title race.”

Konterman recalls his time at Willem II and the attacking football the team played under Co Adriaanse fondly. He has been pleased to see the side Koster has built enjoy similar success as their predecessors. But he feels there are few comparisons between them.

“The way Adriaanse managed to forge a team was unprecedented,” he said. “We were supreme at home against PSV and Ajax. We played super offensive and wanted to be very dominant. I don't have that feeling now. We also did it with mostly Dutch players. I am in favour of that. Willem II is more of a foreign legion now.”

Che Nunnely, the Willem II winger, contacted Konterman, whose Netherlands Under-20 team he played for, when the second and third round draws were made for the Europa League earlier this month to ask him about Rangers.

The 12-times capped defender feels Nunnely and his team mates should avoid taking the game to their opponents in the Koning Willem II Stadium if they want to triumph and go through to a play-off against either Galatasaray or Hajduk Split next week.

"Willem II should not, like Feyenoord last season at Ibrox, get into a fight," he said. "Then they will not win. Willem II must stay out of the duels. With well executed and tactically strong position play they can play and hurt Rangers. But when it comes to recycling the ball, Rangers win.”