LIKE many thousands of Rangers fans I was absolutely devastated when I heard the news about Sandy Jardine passing away late on Thursday night.

All of the Barcelona Bears, the boys who played in the team that won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1972, were aware that Sandy was unwell again. We knew the cancer had come back. But we were hopeful that everything would once again be all right.

Sadly that was not to be the case. My thoughts are first and foremost with his wife and his family at this difficult time. Who knows what they are going through at the present moment?

I think the word "legend" is bandied about far, far too easily when it comes to describing footballers these days. But Sandy Jardine was genuinely a Ranger legend.

Sandy was a true professional. He was one of these players who was first to the ground in the morning. Whenever you had hard work to do he would always be leading the way. When we had laps of Ibrox to do then Sandy and his great friend Alex MacDonald would be the front two all of the time. He led by example. He gave 100% all of the time whether it was in training or in matches.

When I joined the club as a laddie of 15 he really took me under his wing. He talked to me quite a lot and told me how to handle all of the pressures that go with being at a big club. I really appreciated that.

I was by no means his best pal at the club. But he was certainly always there for me if I needed to speak to somebody when I was finding my feet at Ibrox at the start of my career.

I hope - and I have no doubt that this will be the case - that he is remembered as a fine footballer for Rangers by supporters who watched him play for so many years.

And it is not just Rangers fans who will recall him fondly either. He went away and finished his career with his boyhood club Hearts and starred at Tynecastle for many years too. He played there until he was 40 years old and won the Scottish Player of the Year award for the second time in his career - 11 years after he first collected it.

So I am certain he will be remembered as a fine footballer, not just by fans of Hearts, Rangers and Scotland, but by supporters of any club who were lucky enough to see him play.

Sandy and Danny McGrain are arguably the best full-backs that Scotland have ever produced. Sandy is a member of both the Rangers Hall of Fame and the Scotland Hall of Fame. And rightly so. He will never be forgotten.

But Sandy will not just be remembered by Rangers supporters for his play on the park. He will be remembered for his years of service off it as well. When the club was struggling two years ago and fans were unhappy with how the SFA was treating them Sandy was the man who organised the march from Ibrox to Hampden to protest.

He was the leader of the Rangers fans at that time. It is no surprise, then, that so many of his fellow Light Blues supporters have been deeply saddened by this news.

I don't think he had an enemy in the world. He was that type of person. You got what you saw with Sandy. If you asked him a question you got a straight answer.

Most importantly, though, having known him personally, he was just a lovely man. He was one of the nicest blokes you could ever hope to meet. I don't think he had a bad word to say about anybody and that, as far as I am concerned, is the sign of a good man.

He was a lovely person to know. I am privileged to have been his friend.