HE has gone from the streets to the stands and to the hallowed Ibrox turf. He is following in the footsteps of legends and of his heroes.

Only a handful of people know how Andy Halliday feels as he lives the Light Blue dream. Ian Ferguson is one of them, though.

The midfielder will return to the scene of arguably his finest performance in a Gers jersey when Mark Warburton’s side face Celtic at Hampden on Sunday.

Halliday was the stand-out man as Rangers clinched a famous victory in the Scottish Cup last season. He was one of the main talking points when they suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Premiership last month.

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Rangers head to the National Stadium with their sights set on the Betfred Cup final but also with a point to prove after their 5-1 humbling at Parkhead.

And nine-in-a-row hero Ferguson knows nobody will be more determined to succeed than lifelong Light Blue Halliday.

“I was shocked that Andy got left out of the last Old Firm game,” he told SportTimes.

“In the semi at Hampden, he was the best man on the park by a mile. Mark has admitted that he has made a mistake there.

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“It is important that you have got the Bluenose in there. He stood on the terraces and supported Rangers and there was nothing better for the likes of myself, Ian Durrant, Ally McCoist, John Brown, than to get the opportunity to play for the club we loved. It is crucial, it is massive.

“If you look back at some of the Celtic teams, they had Paul McStay, John Collins, Tom Boyd and they were hard to beat and play against.

“You must have that and the players have to understand what it means when they pull on that jersey.

“I do think it is important that you keep that connection. You must keep that tradition, you must keep Rangers fans in there because they know how important it is, what it means to the club and what it means to the supporters.”

Of the barrage of blows Rangers have suffered in the Premiership so far this season, the one inflicted by their Old Firm rivals certainly hurt the most.

The Gers returned to the East End for the first time in four years and left with a bloody nose as Brendan Rodgers’ side ran out comfortable winners.

It was the worst defeat of the Warburton reign, a day to forget for his players that relished the occasion but had an afternoon to forget.

Ferguson said: “For the guys that were experiencing it for the first time, it would have been daunting for them, but it was the same for the Celtic players.

“I can just imagine the hype in the papers and on the TV and the expectations in the build-up to the game. It would have been massive and when you actually go into the game and play it that is when it really hits you.

“I am sure they will have learned a lot from that and they will know how to handle this week to prepare right. The first one is huge for a player and it wasn’t a great result for Rangers.

“The only way I would be thinking is, as a group, you have to be united and be together. You talk about it and look within yourself at what you can do.”

For the likes of Ferguson and Halliday, the Old Firm encounter was the realisation of a long-held ambition as they lined up against Celtic in the heat of battle.

The Parkhead defeat was a shock to the system for those that Warburton brought on board in the summer, though, and the 54-year-old has been left bemused by some of the comments and criticism directed towards his side this term.

But Ferguson knows players have to thrive in the unique environment in Glasgow if they are to succeed at Rangers.

“You can’t get away from the hype and it is always there no matter where you go,” he said.

“If you go out a walk with your dog, you will get someone shouting the odds at you or someone supporting you.

“If you pick up a paper you see it, if you listen to the radio you hear it or if you watch TV you see it. You are not going to get away from it.

“I didn’t need any motivation because it was against our biggest rivals and you want to go out there and win.

“I remember losing one of the games and not showing my face for a week until the next game. I went in, trained and went home.

“We have got players going out after getting beat 5-1 and sitting in restaurants. That wouldn’t have been seen in our day.

“There are players nowadays that don’t realise the importance of beating Celtic and getting the bragging rights in the city.

“When you get that win, you feel ten feet tall. When you lose, you want to go away and hide in a corner.”

Rangers will head to Hampden with a score to settle on Sunday but the semi-final clash is more significant than reclaiming the bragging rights in the city.

Warburton’s side are already seven points adrift in the Premiership title race and it is the cup competitions that appear to offer their most realistic chances of silverware this term.

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Ferguson was a stalwart of Walter Smith’s side during the glory days of the 90s and reckons events at Hampden could define the Gers’ aspirations for the rest of the campaign.

Ferguson said: “I think it is really important and Rangers must get a result as far as I am concerned. It will shape how the season goes.

“There are a lot of games to go but Celtic are on such a high at the moment that it is going to be difficult to stop them.

“I was talking to Richard Gough the other day about how the roles have reversed in regards to when we were going through that great spell and Celtic were going through the hard times.

“I know it is down to the quality and the players that Rangers bring in but there is also a hunger, a desire, a will to win that players have got to have in them when they come to Ibrox.

“You are two games away from a crisis. I have said it all through my career. No matter what happens, you must keep winning.”