“GLASGOW RANGERS remains in my heart, I will love this team all my life.”

The famous saying ‘Once a Ranger, always a Ranger’ could not be more perfectly applied to former defender Dorin Goian.

The towering Romanian joined the Light Blues from Serie A side Palermo in the summer of 2011 and quickly became a fans favourite as he formed a steely defensive partnership with Carlos Bocanegra.

His tenure at Ibrox was cut short by the 2012 financial meltdown that saw his stay end prematurely, but his love of the club remains true to this day.

Despite being part of a Palermo team who had finished 7th in Serie A in 2010/11 when the chance to join Rangers presented itself, Goian grabbed it with both hands.

“I knew that Glasgow Rangers was a big club but I didn’t realise it’s a huge club,” he enthused.

“I realised this after a couple of days from arriving. The stadium, the mentality, the infrastructure, everything was unbelievable.

“From the first day when I arrived in Glasgow, I signed with Rangers, there was, no doubt that this was exactly what I wanted when I saw the club and especially because I heard some stories about Glasgow Rangers and the fans.”

Goian was one of seven summer arrivals as Ally McCoist took over the managerial reins from Walter Smith. The Rangers legend was pivotal in enticing the defender to Govan. 

He explained: “I want to thank Mr Ally especially because he was one of the people from the club who wanted me and this was a bonus for me.

Rangers Review: Goian embraces Ally McCoist after beating Celtic 4-2 at Ibrox.Goian embraces Ally McCoist after beating Celtic 4-2 at Ibrox.

“For him to want me gave me great belief to play very well and I tried my best not to disappoint him.

“All the time, the gaffer created a good environment. He managed to make very good training sessions, with a positive spirit, joking all the time, especially when the team was playing well and we were winning every game, the atmosphere was getting better all the time.

“In the beginning, I couldn’t understand everything the gaffer said because the Scottish accent is difficult.

“So for example, when he spoke fast, I didn’t manage to understand everything that he was trying to say. But when I was speaking with him face-to-face and he was speaking more slowly, everything was ok and I understood everything.”

Goian’s first day at Ibrox didn’t quite go as smoothly as he would’ve liked, however.

“Immediately after I’d signed they brought me a car,” he recalls.

“Rangers had a sponsor with Audi and they told me, ‘Look Dorin, now you must go to the hotel, here is the postcode and this is the postcode for the training camp so we’ll see you tomorrow morning for training.’

READ MORE: Pedro Caixinha reflects on Rangers: Going 'man to man' with Miller, Pena addiction issues and signing Morelos

“It was the first time in my life when I was driving on the left side so it was a little bit strange and I remember I drove about 300 metres and I scratched the left side of the car.

“I didn’t know what to do so I turned the car back and returned to Murray Park and I told the guy, ‘Look, I’m sorry I scratched the car,’

“I was ashamed a little bit but he said, ‘Hey Dorin, the car has insurance, take it easy no problem.’

“In a couple of minutes they brought me another car but it was a funny story.”

The day after signing for the club, Goian would make his Rangers bow as McCoist’s men ran out 2-0 winners over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

It would spark a nine-match winning run as the champions opened up a nine-point gap on arch-rivals Celtic. It was a run the included a 4-2 victory over Neil Lennon’s side and an encounter Goian relished.

“I wanted to start well, especially with a win because it was my first game.

“We won nine games in a row so we started very well, we beat Celtic in the Old Firm so I think at that moment we were first and playing well.

“I didn’t expect to adapt so fast to Scottish football, to the weather, with my other teammates but when you are playing in a big club with professional people in all departments, it’s impossible not to adapt quickly.

“The atmosphere for the Old Firm game was unbelievable.

Rangers Review: Goian squares up to Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the Old Firm derby Goian squares up to Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the Old Firm derby

“From the beginning with the warm-ups, it was an unbelievable atmosphere. We started not very well because Celtic scored first and I thought, ‘My God, today is going to be a difficult game,’ but after that, we played better and better and we scored. The second half was incredible.”

Goian came close to netting himself when he met a Steven Davis free kick but couldn’t direct his effort on target. He admits scoring goals wasn’t his forte but keeping the zero as Giovanni van Bronckhorst likes to call it, certainly was.

“If I could score in that game it would’ve been unbelievable but unfortunately I didn’t score many goals at Rangers.

“In that season I scored just one time in the cup at Falkirk so from that point of view, I didn’t manage to score many goals.

READ MORE: Graeme Souness' Rangers golf ban, the battle of Easter Road and classy chairman gesture - Colin West interview

“In all the games I played in my career I start with the idea I am a defender and I don’t want to concede. If we won 1-0 or 2-0, I was the happiest player from that day because this must be the motivation for each game, not to concede a goal.”

Allan McGregor was also in the Rangers team that day and Goian says it’s great to see his two former Ibrox teammates still turning out for the club.

“Many goalkeepers can play later in their careers but Allan is a legend for Rangers and I’m honoured I had the chance to play with him and I’m honoured I played with my other teammates because they were very good quality.

“Jelavic was in very good shape. Lafferty, Naismith, Steve Davis - he doesn’t seem to get old. I watch him all the time, it’s a big pleasure to see that he’s still playing and he’s still doing very well - good for him.

“Many of the players were playing for their national teams. It was unbelievably good times.”

Goian’s partnership with US skipper Bocanegra would wield ten clean sheets in 19 games and the duo soon won the hearts of the Ibrox faithful.

The Romanian says it was no surprise they clicked from the off.

“It was an honour playing with Carlos. He played over 100 games for the US national team, it’s quite incredible.

Rangers Review: Goian and Carlos Bocanegra in conversation during Rangers 4-0 win over Dunfermline at East End Park Goian and Carlos Bocanegra in conversation during Rangers 4-0 win over Dunfermline at East End Park

“This was also one of the things that went very well in that season because Carlos was another player with big quality and experience.

“We understood each other very well, very quickly. After two games we were playing like we were playing together for two seasons but this happens when you have experienced players in the team with quality and character.”

Whilst things may have been going well on the pitch, the club was in disarray off it which would culminate in the infamous Valentine’s Day announcement from disgraced former owner Craig Whyte as he plunged the club into administration.

Goian says the club would’ve romped to their fourth league title in a row if the subsequent ten point deduction wasn’t applied.

“For sure, we started very well, we were first in the standings, 12 points in front of Celtic.

“I’m sure we would’ve won the championship without a problem without the problems. They took ten points off us in the end.

“Mentally we were down but if they didn’t take the points off us I’m sure that we would’ve won the championship that season.

“This is one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t have the opportunity to win one championship, one trophy with Glasgow Rangers.”

The turmoil off the pitch would culminate in the club ending up in the bottom tier of Scottish football the following summer, a decision Goian found bizarre and he admits would cost him his Rangers career.

“It was a shock because I didn’t want to believe a club like Rangers would be demoted to the fourth division.

“In my opinion, it wasn’t a good decision for the federation but it’s not my job to speak about this. But at that moment I still had another two years on my contract. From my point of view it wasn’t a problem staying and playing in the Fourth Division, I honestly didn’t want to leave Rangers.

“The problem was that the coach of the Romanian national team, Victor Pițurcăat was calling me every day and telling me, ‘Look, Dorin please try to find an alternative to go on loan somewhere else because I need you in the national team, I want to call you up again but I cannot do this if you are playing in the Fourth Division in Scotland. I know Glasgow Rangers is a huge club but if I call you up from the Fourth Division in Scotland, all the press and people in Romania will kill me in the newspapers.’

“This is the reason that my agent tried to find me a team to go to on loan because I didn’t want to lose the opportunity of playing for my national team, it was a big honour for me. This was one of the reasons why I went on loan to Spezia in Italy.”

Before returning to Italy, Goian would make four appearances for the Light Blues at the start of the 2012/13 campaign as the club began their journey back to the summit from the depths of the Third Division.

Almost 40,000 fans packed inside Ibrox for the first home match of the season, a 4-0 win over East Fife in the first round of the League Cup.

It was a game that blew Goian away.

“I had a very good relationship with the fans. I’m glad that I managed to be liked by them. For me, the fans of Rangers are the best fans in the world because I saw their love for this team in the most difficult moment in the history of the club, playing in the fourth division.

Rangers Review: Goian in action during Rangers 4-0 win over East Fife in August 2012 Goian in action during Rangers 4-0 win over East Fife in August 2012

“I had the honour of playing a couple of games in the Third Division and that moment was exactly the moment when I realised how huge that club is and how much it is loved by the fans.

“In a difficult moment, the fans were very close to the team and they were singing even louder than the game against Celtic in the Old Firm. The atmosphere in the first game at home was unbelievable.”

These days, Goian is back in his homeland but he still keeps a close eye on his former club.

“I watch the games, every weekend, every game I look for their result.

“Also the fact that Steve (Davis) is still there, Allan (McGregor) is still there, Ianis is there, so I have more reasons to watch Glasgow Rangers but honestly Glasgow Rangers remains in my heart I will love this team all my life.”