POGON Szczecin’s remarkable rise from the fourth tier of Polish football to the Ekstraklasa gave their sporting director Darius Adamczuk an enormous amount of satisfaction.

But Rangers’ climb through the divisions in Scotland and subsequent return to European competition has been every bit as pleasing for him to see.

Adamczuk was, despite helping the Ibrox club to qualify for the Champions League group stages and win the Premier League in the 1999/00 season, not a particular success during his time in Govan.

Certainly, the versatile and hard-working defender cum midfielder is remembered with far greater affection today by Dark Blues supporters than Light Blues fans.

He spent two separate spells at Dundee and helped the Dens Park club triumph in the old First Division in 1998 and then finish fifth – their highest ever placing – in the Premier League in 1999 before being lured to their top flight rivals.

Yet, the only Polish footballer ever to play for Rangers remains proud to have represented the Glasgow giants and will be willing them on to beat his countrymen Lech Poznan in the Europa League tomorrow evening.

“I am very happy that I played for Rangers,” he said. “They are a very big club with great supporters. It was a good experience for me to play for them. I still support them. Every Saturday night I always look to see the Dundee and Rangers results after Pogoń Szczecin have played.

“We get some games from Scotland on Polish television now. It is mostly Celtic games that we see because Patryk Klimala plays for them. But we also get some Rangers games as well. I watched the Old Firm match and was pleased to see them win.

“I saw what happened with their financial problems. I hope they win the league this season. They have great potential.”

A win over Poznan in the Group D match in the Miejski Stadium tomorrow night will be another indication of the progress that Rangers, who triumphed over Standard Liege in Belgium last Thursday, have made under Steven Gerrard.

However, James Tavernier and his team mates still have some way to go before they can reach the giddy heights scaled by the side that Adamczuk was a member of.

He helped Dick Advocaat’s men record a 2-1 aggregate victory over Parma, who fielded Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Dino Baggio and Hernan Crespo in their starting line-up, in a third round Champions League qualifier in Italy in his debut campaign.

He would go on to play in the 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at Ibrox in the UEFA Cup later that term too.

But those were isolated highlights. He was blighted by injuries, fell out of the first team and struggled physically and mentally as a result of not being involved on a regular basis.

“It was a difficult for me,” he said. “I was sidelined a lot. We also had a very good team with a lot of experienced players. We had Claudio Reyna, Sergio Porrini, Jorg Albertz and Arthur Numan. We had a lot of big, big names.

“That was good for the manager. But I was a player who needed to play every week in order to keep my fitness at a high level. I wasn’t a very technical player so I needed to keep my fitness up to perform.

“I played for Dundee every week. At Rangers I didn’t. I would play a game and then sit on the bench for four games. That wasn’t easy. I knew when I joined Rangers I wouldn’t be the star. I don’t know if I was the star at Dundee, but I certainly played every week. It is better to play 50 games in a season than 10 games.

“I had been a very important player for Dundee and was popular with the supporters. I had won the First Division with them in 1998 and was named Player of the Year in 1999. That was important for me. But I knew that would be the situation when I joined Rangers.”

The aloof attitude of Advocaat, the dictatorial and distant Dutch coach who had spent vast sums in the transfer market in an attempt to make Rangers a force in Europe as well as Scotland, didn’t exactly help.

“Dick didn’t really like to talk with the players,” he said. “Some managers like to speak to the players, but Dick just did his job. The players who played every week were happy. But for me the manager must care about players who don’t play. Dick didn’t care.

“If he had changed his team more from week to week he could have kept his full squad happy. I needed a little bit of support from the manager at times.”

Adamczuk made just three appearances for Rangers in the 2000/01 season and was loaned out to Wigan Athletic in the 2001/02 campaign. It soon emerged he had been diagnosed with depression and signed off sick. He departed shortly afterwards after reaching an agreement to terminate his contract. It is a period of his life he is understandably reluctant to revisit. “I don’t look back,” he said.

Now 51, he has plenty to look forward to with Pogoń Szczecin in future. Their season has been badly disrupted by coronavirus. No fewer than 23 of their players tested positive for Covid-19 back in August and their games were postponed for a fortnight as a result. But he is hopeful they can do well enough to get into the Europa League themselves.

“We are sixth just now, but we have only played six games,” he said. “We fight for a place in Europe next season. When I joined 13 years ago we were in the fourth league. In nine seasons we climb into the top league in Poland. It will be a great moment if we can get into the Europa League.”

If Darius Adamczuk’s home town team can realise that ambition in the coming months it will make him as proud as he is of his achievements as a player in this country.

“I liked Scottish football and I liked Scottish people,” he said. “I played for Dundee for four years and we won promotion to the Premier League. When I look back on my career I can also say that I won a trophy with Rangers. They are good memories. I had a great time.”