In the first part of our look-back on two decades of Ibrox signings, we start off with the bizarre PAUL RITCHIE deal done by Dick Advocaat back in 2000.
Paul Ritchie lived the dream -- but after just 10 weeks it turned into a nightmare.
A Bosman move from Hearts to Rangers in June 2000 should have been the step Ritchie required to prove he could fulfil the promise he had shown early in his career.
At 24, the time was right for the defender to make his mark on a bigger stage. But, with the ink barely dry on his contract, he was on the move again.
Dick Advocaat, the manager who had signed him, sold Ritchie to Manchester City for £500,000 after deciding the player was surplus to requirements -- without even seeing him in first-team action.
It was to prove one of the most disappointing episodes of Ritchie’s professional career, but, 10 years on, he admits there were positives to what happened.
“I would have loved for it to have worked out at Rangers,” he said. “It is a fantastic football club and for me to be there the length of time that I was was disappointing.
“I moved on and was given an opportunity to play in the Premiership so, from that point of view, something good came of it.
“It was just one of these things that happen in life. You move on, but you look back at it now and again and you wish things had worked out differently.”
Ritchie’s switch to Maine Road was to prove another false dawn.
He failed to hold down a regular place under Joe Royle, and spent time on loan at Portsmouth and Derby County before moving to Walsall.
He was able to re-ignite his international career at the latter, earning his final cap in a 4-0 defeat to Wales in 2004, before his return to Scotland with Dundee United.
Ritchie, who spent his final playing days in Cyprus and the United States, said: “You have got to move on after a disappointment, but I do have regrets about how my career panned out because of certain decisions that I made and certain scenarios that happened.
“I do have regrets but I was fortunate enough to play at a good level.
I earned seven Scotland caps and that is something that nobody can ever take away from me.
“There are decisions that I made that maybe I shouldn’t have but, at the time, I thought they were the right ones to take for my career.
“People who say they don’t have any regrets in life are maybe telling a few porkies.”
Signed during an era when money was no object, the Bosman acquisition of Ritchie appeared sound business from the Ibrox hierarchy.
He could have been forgiven for bearing a grudge against Advocaat for the Dutchman’s handling of his brief stint in Glasgow, but the 34-year-old remains philosophical.
“The manager’s opinion was that he didn’t see me fitting into the first team at that time and he was hoping to move me on,” Ritchie said.
“That is what he did. You have just got to respect that because he was a successful manager for Rangers.
“It is disappointing the way it ended, but I do not have any animosity towards Rangers.”
Ritchie has had to watch two of his former Tynecastle team-mates go on to lift multiple honours with the Ibrox club.
Alongside David Weir and Neil McCann, he was part of Hearts’ 1998 Scottish Cup-winning team.
But his chances of further successes diminished when his time in Govan proved to be short-lived.
“I played with David and Neil at Hearts and they both made that transition to Rangers and were successful,” Ritchie said.
“David and Neil went to Rangers and won league championships and Scottish Cups and League Cups.
“Yes, I won a Scottish Cup and got to a few finals, but I didn’t win nearly as much as I would have liked to have won.
“David and Neil have got so many medals between them.”
PAUL RITCHIE CAREER STATS
1992-2000: Hearts (161)
2000: Bolton (loan) (21)
2000: Rangers (0)
2000 - 2003: Man City (27)
2002: Portsmouth (loan) (13)
2003: Derby County (loan) (7)
2003 - 2004: Walsall (35)
2004 -06: Dundee United (53)
2006 - 2007: AC Omonia (2)
2009: Carolina Railhawks (1)
Rangers summer 2000 signings:
Peter Lovenkrands £1.3m (Akademisk Boldklub)
Bert Konterman £4.5m (Feyenoord)
Ronald de Boer £4m (Barcelona)
Fernando Ricksen £3.6m (AZ)
Kenny Miller £2m (Hibernian)