JOHN LUNDSTRAM was proclaimed as the best on earth as he experienced the ultimate Ibrox highs last term. Now he has been brought back down to earth and is dealing with the lows of life at Rangers.

The midfielder was an inspiring, integral figure on the road to Seville and his winner against RB Leipzig still sends shivers down the spine. He knows, though, how quickly football can change, how easy it is for past glories to be overlooked amid current times of trouble.

That strike at Ibrox was followed by a Europa League final defeat and Scottish Cup triumph. This term, the achievement of reaching the Champions League was the precursor to a group stage campaign to forget and losing to Celtic on Sunday summed up a domestic season that has gone from bad to worse.

It could yet have a silver lining and victory at Hampden in May would see Michael Beale's side salvage something from the season. It would repair some of the damage but arguably not placate a support who have become disillusioned in defeat.

It has been some time since Lundstram was serenaded to the music of Belinda Carlisle and his standing with supporters has suffered as a result of individual and collective struggles. Those moments are tough to come to terms with but the rise back to the top would be an impossible endeavour if there was no self-belief.

"Good question," Lundstram said when asked if his motivation was to avoid repeating the lows or to experience the highs once again. "I’ve never really thought about it, I’ve just always tried not to get too high on the highs. I know I’m repeating myself.

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"It is harder when you get the lows, of course it is. Because you’re just riding the wave when you’re on a high.

"Listen, we all want the highs. You go through tough times, never mind in football, in life. You just have to get on with it."

At a club like Rangers, there is no other option than to go again, to pick yourself up and dust yourself down. Retaining the Scottish Cup would be a start but the process is all encompassing now and one medal will not solve the problems that are stacking up for Beale.

Lundstram has become one of the main voices in the dressing room during his 18 months in Glasgow. He is well aware that Ibrox is a place where only the best thrive.

"Yeah, you could say that," Lundstram said when asked if he was mentally stronger for the trials and tribulations he has experienced at Rangers. "But I have always been a mentally strong player anyway.

"I have been through a lot in my career, had a lot of ups and downs and you lads would have seen the type of ups and downs I have been through.

"That is the same for every player. But, of course, at a place like Rangers you have got to be mentally tough because only the strong survive. Hopefully I am one of them."

The aftermath of an Old Firm defeat is never pleasant for those that find themselves in the eye of the storm. In a whirlwind week, it has been Beale that has taken most of the unfriendly fire from his own supporters.

Lundstram won't shirk his part in it either. He insisted he was '100 per cent' fit for Beale at Hampden after training 'three, four days that week leading up to the game' and he doesn't need the opinions of others to know that he fell short.

"I don’t read too much to be honest," Lundstram said. "If you read too much, you can put a negative on yourself.

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"You know what’s coming, you’re not stupid. We’ve all been in the game long enough to know what’s coming when you get a defeat. A defeat against your rivals stings, of course it does. And it stings us as well.

"Of course you have to listen to it at times because it can drive you on in good times and sometimes you might need a kick up the backside in bad times.

"But if you read too much into negativity it can only go one way. At the same time, you need to know it’s there to try and get yourself back on track."

Lundstram arrived home on Sunday night with the medal that he didn't want. There was no desire to watch the action back so soon and attempts to square up events at Hampden in his mind proved futile.

Time with his six month old baby daughter was precious. The Scouser knows he is fortunate in that regard but it can be an impossible task to switch from player to parent while emotions are still as raw.

"It is tough sometimes because you go home sometimes after a defeat at the weekend and you are sitting there with your family and you are not really there," Lundstram said. "It is tough on the family as much as it is tough on yourself.

"They are there with you in the highs and the lows and I am really lucky to have a good family behind me. It is tough on them when I am there but not really there and still thinking about the game. That is part and parcel of it."

The summer rebuild at Ibrox requires the acquisition of those with the required mindset as well as the necessary ability and the work that Beale undertakes will shape the mood of the support and Rangers' ambitions for some time to come.

Lundstram's fate will not be determined by his contract status. Like the majority of the squad, it will come down to his own performances on the park and Beale's decisions off it.

"No mate, nothing at all," Lundstram said when asked if there had been any discussions over his future. "I have not even thought about my contract situation. I have still got 18 months left on it. Nothing at all.

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"You are always playing for your future in football. You are playing for your next game. If you don’t play well you won’t be playing next week.

"That is football and I have learned that throughout my career. You are always, always playing for your career and your reputation. I think if you do play like that then it will stand you in good stead."

The first chance to show a reaction arrives this afternoon against Kilmarnock. It is a game that must be taken care of, but one that will ultimately be irrelevant in the Premiership as Celtic close in on the title for the second consecutive season.

The Old Firm defeat was the first that Beale has suffered as manager. The Englishman and his players can take no consolation from that fact but it does give them a base level to return to as Rangers now attempt to regroup once again.

"I think that is the big one," Lundstram said. "I think we have improved a lot. We have been away to some tough away games where we have not got results in the past and gone there and won, and won convincingly at times. I think we have definitely improved.

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"It is a stumbling block on Sunday but we are still building, the manager is only 15 games into his reign and I don’t think it looks how he wants it to look. I don’t think it was going to after 15 games but it is going in the right direction. Of course Sunday was a stumbling block but let’s just try and build."