RANGERS legend Mark Hateley spoke of his pride last night after seeing his son Tom and his Piast Gliwice team-mates stun Polish football by ‘doing a Leicester City’ and landing the club’s first-ever top-flight title. The 29-year-old midfielder, who spent four seasons in the Scottish game in Motherwell, could now be on a collision course with Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, after the club based in the modest city of Gliwice in the Silesian Highlands shocked the likes of Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan to claim the Ekstralasa title. It was a success celebrated long and hard by Hateley Snr, not least because it has been his boy’s burden to carry around the family name so dominated by him and his late father Tony.

“It’s just amazing,” said Hateley, speaking at a charity golf day in aid of the SPFL Trust and the Chris Mitchell Foundation. “I’ve been away in Shanghai for the last six days so I’ve had no contact with him at all, which is good because he’s probably been the worse for wear. But as soon as I landed my phone started buzzing with lots of messages and videos from him with Eloise my granddaughter.

“He really has done an unbelievable thing. This is the first time they have ever won the championship. And they have won it with a budget one-tenth of the rest of the league.

“He joined them a year back in January when they were on course to get relegated,” Hateley Snr added. “He came into the side and they kept five clean sheets and they got mid table straight away. Then the team has gone from strength to strength. They’ve added a goalkeeper and a 26-year-old centre back who has been absolutely incredible this season.

“It was never going to be easy for Tom. It was the same for me with my dad. But it was a little different because my dad was a centre forward too so the comparisons were there with goalscoring records and all that. But Tom has completely fulfilled what I always thought he would do in the game.

“When he went to Motherwell it was as a central midfielder but then when the right back got injured in a warm-up he was put to right back and played so well there he stayed in that position. Maybe he has been too versatile for his own good. But the only two occasions I saw him in central midfield for Motherwell was against the Old Firm and he played really, really well. He went into Europe to prove he could do that and he’s been immense this season. I’m so proud, I’m chuffed to bits. They’ve got the Champions League qualifiers next and I think they come in in the same round as Celtic. Which would be interesting.”

Compared to such an upset in the Polish league, even Rangers re-claiming the Scottish title after an eight-year exile would be small beer. While Hateley feels the club are moving in the right direction under Steven Gerrard, he doesn’t subscribe to the popular theory down Govan way that Celtic appointing Neil Lennon represents a boost to their chances. After all, when Graeme Souness shocked the Ibrox dressing room by walking out on the club for Liverpool shortly before the conclusion of the 1991-92 season, an internal candidate called Walter Smith stepped in and he didn’t do too badly.

“It’s important for Celtic to get a manager in charge who is respected by the players,” said Hateley. “It was the same when Graeme Souness left us, in very similar circumstances to Brendan Rodgers at Celtic. We were asked who we would have liked and we were comfortable with a man we knew in Walter. Lenny knows a lot of the players from his time at the club before and his time at Hibs and he obviously has a good working relationship with Peter Lawwell.

“But I am optimistic after what we have done this year,” he added. “If we can achieve that again I don’t think we will not be far behind. As part of a nine-in-a-row group, I know what it takes out of a group, the constant drive and ambition that’s required every time you play. It can come to an abrupt end so for Celtic to keep going is an unbelievable achievement.”

**Mark Hateley was speaking at the SPFL Trust Golf Day, which raises money for mental health first aid training. The SPFL Trust has trained almost 400 people across every league club in Scotland.