Maurice Edu saw it all in four rollercoaster years at Rangers. Three titles, a last-gasp Old Firm winner, Champions League nights, the club’s financial collapse.

The 46-times capped American international midfielder, now a TV pundit in his homeland, experienced the lot. Here in the first instalment of a two-part interview, he recalls the goal he will never forget, THAT stoppage-time Ibrox clincher against Celtic.

Even now, watching the video sends a shiver down Maurice Edu’s spine.

The date is February 28, 2010, and the clock is ticking down on a crucial Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

Kevin Thomson’s corner deep into stoppage time is half-cleared to the edge of the box and Madjid Bougherra’s clever first touch sets him up to smash in a half-volley that rifles through a forest of legs.

Celtic keeper Artur Boruc can’t hold it, Kris Boyd almost bundles it home on the line, the ball squirms across the face of goal a yard out and… Maurice gleefully raps it home to send a rocking Ibrox into ecstasy.

These days, the cultured American midfielder Walter Smith lured to Scotland in a £2.6m deal from Canadian Major League franchise Toronto FC is one of the most insightful TV pundits around, analysing the beautiful game in his homeland.

Back then for one special day in his career, he was The Govanor.

When I caught up with him at home in Las Vegas on a day off from his new media career to look back on his Rangers career he smiled: “I know 100 per cent that the Rangers fans will always remember me for that goal.

“I can walk you through the video because I still get it sent to me so consistently 13 years on.

“It’s a memory that still resonates with so many people, when you are on the pitch you are just motivated by your goal of winning the game and you just see it through that lens.

“So now with the passage of time, it’s just so cool to get messages from people saying where they were when that goal went in.

“It’s crazy to think you shared a moment in time with so many people around the world. That’s Rangers.

“The goal played a big role in us winning the title that year. We were seven points ahead before the match, winning the game made it 10 points, losing it dropped us to four and they would be back in it.

“So I knew the importance of it and the ironic thing was I had just come back from injury and played a couple of matches but the manager didn’t start me.

“There was a sense of disappointment there, it was the Old Firm and that’s the game everyone has circled on their calendar as the one they want to play in.

“The thing is, I had a goal disallowed in the first half when I first came on but I got there in the end with the easiest goal I ever scored!”

Edu’s four years in Light Blue, interrupted by a cruciate knee ligament injury, brought him three league titles, a Scottish Cup medal and two League Cup honours.

He played 125 games for Gers, scoring 11 other goals – and that priceless one.

Now 37 and a hugely popular TV sports personality Stateside on Apple TV, Fox and CBS Maurice carries huge pride on one aspect of his Rangers story - that Walter Smith signed him.

Like so many players the late, great manager influenced, Edu was left heartbroken by his gaffer’s death in October 2021.

“I watch the video of that Celtic game now sometimes just to look at Walter’s reaction to my goal," he admitted. 

"What a special man he was. The word legend gets thrown around too much in football but that’s what he was, he epitomised what the club meant to so many people.

“When he passed you saw what he meant not just from a Scottish standpoint but from a global one.

“What an impact he had, I am so proud that he thought enough of me to sign me for Rangers.

“He guided me through some important years of my life both on and off the pitch.”

Californian Maurice was 22 years old when he joined the club.

It was a life-changing move for the star who would go on to play for Stoke City in the English Premiership and Turkish giants Bursaspor before returning home to shine for Philadelphia Union in the MLS.

Edu needed the right mentor at a pivotal time in his playing career and he found him in Smith.

He revealed: “Walter was always honest whether it was what I wanted to hear or not! He knew how to speak to people.

“When he walked into a room, there was an aura and a presence. Whether you were a young kid breaking through or a seasoned veteran from the Premier League playing for Rangers, he made his mark on you.

“His words were incredibly powerful, he had the knack that those who master positions of power and authority possess.

“I recognised it from day one, when he spoke to me to tell me I wasn’t starting he’d look me dead in the eye, he didn’t waver once.

“Small things like that matter, go and work with someone else and they are delivering bad news to you and they can’t look you in the eyes. They stare at their feet, not Walter.

“He never once looked at me like a commodity or an asset to Rangers, he spoke to me like a man.

“There were times when I would ask to go home to see my family in the States if I was getting homesick and he’d help because he had this empathy for you.

“Beyond just being a top manager, he was a top human being.”

Maurice was always conscious of one star-spangled midfielder he followed into a light blue jersey.

Claudio Reyna was a Rangers player when the horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks rocked the world.

He once lifted his jersey during a goal celebration to reveal his Under Armour with FDNY emblazoned on it to salute the New York firefighters who perished in the Twin Towers that harrowing day.

Edu realised he had much to live up to and he admitted: “I knew all about the impact Claudio had made at Rangers, he was a USMNT legend after all.

“He played in World Cups, I tracked his movements, he laid the groundwork and opened doors without even knowing it. I knew how the fans rated him.

“He set the stage for me at Rangers and I wanted to try and be looked at in the same sort of way as he was by the fans.

“DaMarcus Beasley was there at Ibrox with me too and I was close to him both with Rangers and the USA.

“Beas was a huge help to me when I got there and outlined the do’s and don’ts for me on and off the pitch and that was incredibly valuable.

“I am still so close to DaMarcus to this day, he’s a true friend as are my other fellow American Gers Alejandro Bedoya and Carlos Bocanegra.

“It’s great we all have special days from our times there to look back on.”

With the smiles, though, comes the sorrow of how it all ended for Maurice at Rangers.

When the club spiralled into the financial abyss in 2012 he became everything Smith had never made him feel like, just a commodity in a desperate fire sale.

He quit for Stoke City in August of that year and he sighed: “I was in the midst of agreeing a new deal and it was never the kind of exit I wanted to have from Rangers.

“I’m empathetic to the teammates I had who took so much flak because of how they left.

“Our hands were forced, I was just glad I was able to get a small fee for the club. Those who couldn’t get a fee couldn’t help that.

“Tough decisions were forced upon us and people had to look after their families.

“From my point of view, I wanted to stay and sign my new deal. Yes, I wanted to explore the Premier League but not then.

“I wanted to remain at Rangers but then everything fell apart with the finances and that will always hurt.

“To this day I say to people they can never imagine what walking out of that tunnel to hear Simply The Best blaring through the speakers and being belted out by all the fans feels like.

“They are like: ‘Really, man? Tina Turner?’

“I just say to them one day you will go to that special place Ibrox and you will learn what I mean! Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.”