The first silverware success of Philippe Clement’s career was a case of David overcoming Goliath. Now he is in charge of a giant that once fell and is still looking to assert its dominance once again.

More than a quarter of a century has elapsed since Clement was part of the Genk side that upset the odds and the established order to win the Belgian Cup with victory over Club Brugge. The story of his career has those two clubs at its heart. He lifted two league titles and seven cups with Brugge as a player. After returning to Genk as a manager, he guided them to the Pro League in 2019 and then followed it up with back-to-back titles, and a Super Cup, when he switched to Brugge for a second time.

It is one thing for managers and players to say that they are a winner. Clement has the medals and the memories to back up the mantra, though. When he says he will deliver at Ibrox, when he states that he knows what it takes, he can point to a series of success to prove his case. Words are, of course, always easier than actions.

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The League Cup that was lifted with victory over Aberdeen in December added to Clement’s personal roll of honour. His chances of a Premiership title triumph have taken a hit during a recent downturn in form but those trials and tribulations can be put to one side at Hampden this afternoon. All the focus is on Hearts and moving to within 90 minutes of a Scottish Cup success on the final day of the campaign.

Clement knows exactly what it means to emerge victorious in national cup competitions and can still recall that sense of occasion and achievement. One of his strongest memories from that day in May 1998 is from before a ball is kicked and he recalls the team pictures that saw Brugge outnumbered as substitutes, squad players and staff posed alongside the Genk XI to savour a day that would turn out to be one of the most famous in the club’s history.

“It was amazing,” Clement said of a 4-0 victory at the King Baudouin Stadium. “Because at that moment Genk was a really small club. I went there in the Second Division, I went there also to make a combination with my university. That was my main target, I had more facilities to do it because they train in the evenings. I could go to school during the day.

“In two years we went from Second Division up, in the first season in the first league we finished eighth position and went into the Intertoto Cup in Europe. One year later from Second Division to Europe, it was like a different world. And the second season, we became second in the league and we won the Cup with almost the same team that played in the Second Division.

“So it was an amazing story. Of course it’s special. I have to say with every moment that you have in your career, every trophy you win, those moments stay. Sometimes less the game, but more the things after. A connection stays for life also with the guys who you win things with. Luckily we have WhatsApp, we are still in touch with each other from that team. In moments we send things to each other and we follow everything of each other.”

Clement spoke about the wish for winning to become a habit but acknowledged that it took hard work for any side to find themselves in that fortunate position. Trophies don’t, he stated, come ‘falling out of the sky’. Rangers know that all too well, and to their cost.

The last of the three successive Pro League titles that Clement won came in the same campaign that Rangers ended their decade-long wait for glory as 55 was clinched. It marked the end of ‘The Journey’ but it has not been the springboard it should have been and two cup triumphs do not represent an acceptable return given the investment in time, money and effort, both on and off the park.

Every trophy won these days means more to the support given the situation that Rangers found themselves in and they now enjoy the good times more because of what they endured in the bad times. Rangers were semi-finalists in the Scottish Cup a ten years ago as they lost to Dundee United at Ibrox. That same term, Forfar dumped them out of the League Cup and Raith Rovers embarrassed them in the Challenge Cup. Clement watched the fall and the rise from afar.

"I knew those things, but I didn't know it in detail,” Clement said. “Now, because I love the history of clubs where I am, I love to know as much as possible. I want to feel what the people feel. There is a lot of desire from the fans to be successful like in the past. But it's not that you can manage to do that in a few weeks. You need time for that and to build for that. They (the fans) have been really passionate in pushing the team the last couple of months. They did a really good job.

“I saw also a lot of frustration after Dundee. I hope and expect that over the next couple of weeks they keep pushing the team to their maximum. I understand the desire and the hunger of the fans to be as successful as before. I can guarantee them one thing. There is not one supporter who has more desire than I have to be successful with this club."

Those aspirations have suffered unexpected setbacks in recent weeks. A defeat to Motherwell that looked like being a bad day at the office could prove to be the beginning of the end and the points dropped against Celtic, Ross County and Dundee have changed the complexion of the Premiership title race. Rangers’ fate is still in their hands, but they are not the favourites anymore.

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The mood and the narrative around Clement’s side has taken a turn for the worse. Yet the 50-year-old won’t lose sight of the process or the possibilities as he seeks a victory that would give Rangers another shot at silverware and potentially kickstart their bid for the main prize on offer.

“We just want to win everything,” Clement said. “It’s simple. So we don’t need to think about ‘a lift’ or a downfall or whatever. It’s about every game wanting to win. That’s been the story from the beginning. And if you do that then you are in contention to win trophies. It’s been the thing from the first moment I stepped in.

“I loved to come here because there is the possibility to win trophies. We have won one already and we are pushing for the two others. So that needs to be the mentality of the players - and it is the mentality. Did they play a bad game against Ross County? Yes. Was Dundee the top? No, but it was better. Now it’s getting to a better level again against Hearts.”