STEPHEN WRIGHT realised a lifelong ambition when he signed for Rangers. Now he hopes to make dreams come true at Ibrox.

It was the summer of 1995 and Walter Smith had an eighth successive title in his sights. His moves in the transfer market would have a profound effect on his side, and the careers of those that signed on the dotted line.

It will be remembered as the month that saw Paul Gascoigne paraded in the sunshine, while Oleg Salenko and Gordan Petric followed. Almost 22 years ago to the day, Wright was the first man through the door, though.

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His move from Aberdeen could have been the start of something special but hero status would never be earned. Wright’s Rangers career was a story of what might have been.

He had played just a handful of matches before he sustained a cruciate knee ligament injury against Juventus at Ibrox. That was the beginning of the end.

The road to recovery was long and fraught for Wright and it was a journey he would never fully complete at Ibrox as his dream move turned into a nightmare.

“I have no regrets at all,” Wright told SportTimes. “I would do it again tomorrow if I had the chance, even although I was injured for a lot of the time I was here.

“To play with some of the players I played with was incredible. It was great to be here.

“I was so lucky and I wouldn’t change it for the world. This is a special place and I am delighted to be back again.”

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It would be easy for Wright to think ‘what if?’ as he reflects on his short-lived career in Light Blue but the countless positives – the players, the success, the occasions and the memories – outweigh the obvious negative.

That night against Juventus will be remembered for all the wrong reasons by the Light Blue legions as Smith’s side were beaten 4-0 at Ibrox and a wretched Champions League campaign went from bad to worse.

Wright lasted just 24 minutes before he was struck down and stretchered off. He didn’t know it then, but the writing was on the wall.

“It was difficult to deal with, but I didn’t come here thinking I was going to be playing for years and years and years,” he said. “You can’t think too far ahead, especially at a club like Rangers.

“I followed the path of Davie Robertson, who came just before me from Aberdeen. I saw his career here and he did really well so I was hoping to try and emulate that.

“But, circumstances dictated otherwise. You get injured and fight back, you get injured again and come back again and it just never worked out for me.

“But I wouldn’t have changed it. I learned from the manager and the great players that were here and I will always remember that period of my career.”

The memories may be mixed but some stand out more than others for Wright. He may not have been in the team, but he was a member of a unique squad.

Many of those he shared a dressing room with would go on to become legends at Ibrox as Smith’s side wrote their names in the history books.

Ironically, his departure would coincide with Gazza’s as he joined Wolves on loan within days of the Englishman clinching a switch to Middlesbrough.

“It was a special time to be at Rangers and it was great for me, even though I didn’t play many games,” Wright said.

“To be at the club for eight-in-a-row and then nine-in-a-row, I shared so many great experiences with some wonderful players and there are so many stories.

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“Rangers were winning trophies, we were in Europe every year, which in those days was a given. Looking back now, it would be great if those days were to come back again. I am sure they will.

“I was lucky to be part of it. As a young kid growing up in Hamilton, it was a dream to be a footballer and to come to Rangers was something I will never forget.”

The chance to put pen-to-paper at Ibrox is one that few get but Wright has recently done it for the third time after returning to Rangers in a coaching capacity.

The 45-year-old had a stint at the club after hanging up his boots and last month he was unveiled as Head of the Intermediate Academy and School Coach.

This time he has been joined by Peter Lovenkrands, Andy Little and Brian Gilmour as the foundations at the Auchenhowie Academy were strengthened ahead of the new season.

“Once you have played here or worked here, it does draw you back in again,” Wright said.

“It is just a special place, a special club. The people are great and coming to the Training Centre every day is fantastic.

“I don’t look back and think I need to work harder than I did as a player or I have anything to prove. Times have moved on, times are different.

“Hopefully I can bring some of the experiences I have had to the young players here.

“I finished playing at quite a young age and went into coaching so I want to bring my experiences to help the players here.

“I want to enjoy it, embrace it and learn. Hopefully I can help players here realise their own dreams with Rangers.”

The journey from Auchenhowie to Ibrox is one that many set out on but few complete as the reality of life in Light Blue hits home before the ultimate ambition is achieved.

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Wright will oversee the development of kids from Under-13 to Under-15 level after leaving his position with the Fife Elite Football Academy.

His own career was ultimately curtailed on the European stage, but he believes the Europa League tie with Progres Niederkorn could inspire the next generation.

“It was a great night to see Rangers back in Europe again,” Wright said.

“We went along to the game and the atmosphere was brilliant. Any young player that plays for Rangers must have that dream of one day playing in front of that crowd.

“When you come here, you have to put the hours in and work hard. It is great seeing the very top, but you have got to earn it.

“There are millions that want to be a professional footballer, but only a small percentage make it. Here, you have every opportunity and it is up to you to make the most of it.”

The focus at Auchenhowie is fixed on the players but Rangers have also made an investment in people at all levels of their football operation.

Plenty has changed since Wright left nine years ago to join Dunfermline but he is confident that positive steps are being taken once again.

“The fans and the teams from years gone by experienced success and European football every year and they expected it every year,” Wright said. “We were out of it for a while you really appreciate it when it comes back.

“The club has worked hard to get back to where they are, and the Academy is part of that as well. It is an exciting place to be and there is a lot of positivity just now.”

*Stephen Wright was pictured promoting the Rangers Youth Development Company. They now have a donate button on their website enabling fans to make a direct donation to the Rangers Youth Development programme.

Visit www.rydc.co.uk for full details on this initiative and their other products which include Rangers Lotto, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and Rising Stars. Donate £15 or more to get a free RYDC t-shirt.