Dave Vos leans back and sighs as his memory clicks into gear. This tends to happen when you mention the Road to Seville to someone who witnessed or was part of Rangers’ historic Europa League Final run. Attempts to explain the magic often fall short, but the simplicity of Vos’ memories captures the essence.

“Ibrox? You cannot explain everything that happened [on those nights] to somebody who was not there. I told my friends you have to come over. I can tell you about it, but you need to feel it.”

Two years ago last Saturday Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Rangers on penalties in the Europa League Final to end a run that is so memorable and was so nearly immortal. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his backroom staff masterminded one tactical ploy after another to see off Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Braga and Red Star Belgrade. Today, Vos explains how the impossible was so nearly achieved.

In part one, which you can read by clicking here, Vos discusses rise and fall of the Van Bronckhorst era. What went wrong with recruitment, why the domestic shortcomings and how did a catalogue of issues collide to turn Rangers’ Champions League dream into a nightmare that ultimately spelt the end?

Today, in part two, Vos talks tactics and memories of those famous Thursday nights. Including Van Bronckhorst’s bravery behind the scenes, channelling the energy of Ibrox, still dreaming of Ryan Kent’s chance in the final, how to beat this Celtic side at Hampden and more.

Failure is often the greatest lesson and so it proved in February 2022. Rangers travelled to Parkhead for a rearranged Old Firm game they would lose 3-0 as the balance in Glasgow shifted. Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic tore Van Bronckhorst’s Rangers apart despite approaching the fixture without a win in their previous nine Old Firms. Pulling Rangers’ pressing structure into chaos and inflicting a sense of shock with such superior intensity. As the internal debrief ensued the Dutch manager and his coaches made a decision together - when they pressed from now on, they’d do so at full tilt.

“One of the most important parts [of the European run] came after the first Old Firm we lost,” Vos reasons.

“We were too ‘in the middle’ of the pitch and not pressing opponents all over. From that moment we made a decision together - we will press the opponent all the way. We will keep pressing, winning the ball early and then if they play a long ball [over the press] we can win it. From there on, we have the ball and can make the difference with it.

“When we played Dortmund away, you could make two decisions. You can drop into a block and counterattack but we made a decision together, and from Gio it was a really brave one, to just press the opposition high and create overloads and in a couple of areas on the pitch. We had Kent in one-on-one duels and a dynamic right side with Tav and Scotty Arfield on the right in the half-spaces. The build-up with two sixes, one in a pivot role and the other dropping to make three in the build-up. Everything was connected in that moment.”

Weeks after that Old Firm humiliation Rangers defeated Borussia Dortmund 4-2 away from home on one of the club’s most famous European nights. When the German giants travelled to Scotland for the return leg a week after Van Bronckhorst was true to his word. With clever tactical plans exploiting the weaknesses in each opponent and foot-to-the-floor aggression channelling Ibrox’s energy, belief started to take hold and strengthen its grip with every passing Thursday night.

“We really analysed every opponent,” Vos adds.

“It was great to be part of that process with the backroom staff and consider all the scenarios, phases of the game and our plans. The boys connected really well to the plan and Gio was really brave. It didn’t matter if it was Dortmund, we were really brave.

“During the whole run, we knew if we could come back with a result to Ibrox then anything was possible. I still have goosebumps from that night against Leipzig. It was one of the most unbelievable experiences I’ve ever had on the pitch.

“We made a different descision away at Leipzig. You see where some of their players [such as Josep Gvardiol at Man City, Christopher Nkunku at Chelsea and Dominik Szoboszlai at Liverpool] are now. We decided, for the only time in the run, to drop back and counter. It would’ve been suicide in the semi-final to press them everywhere [away from home]. We knew with a small margin that anything was possible at Ibrox.

“If you see the first 10 minutes of the return leg game at Ibrox, we pressed Leipzig one-on-one all over the pitch. Connor [Goldson] was defending with 60 yards on his back and everybody was pushing forwards. It was an unbelievable experience. I still get all the clips in my head. Ibrox was bouncing and we felt on the bench that if we got the first goal we could move forward.”

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Rangers were relentless in those four home fixtures, outsourcing their opponents by 11 goals to four. The Leizpig game epitomised the blend of clever tactical ploys (using Glen Kamara as a route over the press and Tavernier to attack the back post) alongside sheer intensity to use Ibrox’s full potential. From formation-shifting against Dortmund to Van Bronckhorst’s man-for-man approach, the run would not have been possible without such tutelage from the dugout.

That win over Leipzig came only two days after the sudden passing of Rangers’ legendary kitman Jimmy Bell. One of the game’s iconic moments saw Kamara celebrate a left-footed strike by kissing the black armband worn in tribute.

“We all felt we needed to do it for Jimmy and his family,” Vos adds. “I had such a good connection with Jimmy, what a guy. He gave me a really hard time when I started. The first time I met him he decided he didn’t want me to understand him. I thought ‘F***’ - my English is ok but I can’t make anything out of this’. Then he would start laughing at me. A lot of times I would sit with Jimmy, with Morelos and a lot of guys in the centre of the training ground. That whole culture was great.”

By Vos’ own admission, the performance against Frankfurt in Seville was Rangers’ worst of the entire run. Even still it was only penalty kicks that split the sides after 180 minutes. Much like Tavernier, who revealed similar reflections to the Rangers Review during an interview this January, two moments never go away. The manner of the goal conceded and one that never was.

“The final for me was a typical final. We played our worst game in Europe during our time at the club,” Vos says.

“There were a lot of long balls, both teams had moments and we improved after the break. We deserved the goal Joe [Aribo] scored and then we weren’t set up right at the throw-in [before Rafael Borre’s equaliser] which was so disappointing. In extra time, we had that chance with Ryan Kent. I sometimes still get to sleep and see that moment because it was so decisive. If we’d won then Rangers would've qualify directly into the group stage of the Champions League as a pot one team as well.

“We flew back the next day and went straight to the hotel ahead of the Scottish Cup Final. I went upstairs and saw my view and finally had some perspective. This was an unbelievable achievement but we needed to go again. I was proud of the players’ reaction in that game, again going into extra time. The fact we won that trophy was a really big thing for us.”

Rangers were forced to play extra-time again to beat Hearts 2-0 and end the season with silverware in the form of the Scottish Cup. As covered in part one of our interview with Vos it was during the summer of 2022 that, he believes, issues started to surface. The coaching staff knew that Rangers’ squad at the end of that transfer window was not ready for the volume and level of football on the horizon. The bond in the dressing room was strong but the upcoming Champions League campaign would be both demoralising and detrimental.

It was Calvin Bassey’s powers of recovery that enabled the bold pressing approach in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final win over Postecoglou’s Celtic and Road to Seville. When Van Bronckhorst’s side travelled to Parkhead in early September of 2022 and lost 4-0, in a strikingly similar fashion to the 3-0 reverse back in February, the pressure reached its climax. Vos believes the summer window didn’t equip Rangers to not only move forward but stand still.

READ MORE: The inside story of the night Rangers rocked Leipzig amid Ibrox noise 'earthquake'

The money spent couldn’t replace the impact offered by Aribo and Bassey in the short-term meaning that Van Bronckhorst didn’t have the time to build long-term. Alongside an injury crisis, Rangers fell nine points behind in the league.

“Calvin Bassey left and he played a massive part,” he adds, “If you want to press up high in that way, all over the pitch, that was our style. For me, it was possible because of him that we could do what we did.

“We still wanted to do the same things and I think at Ibrox we played really well against Napoli, the first half against Liverpool was unbelievable. In parts of the game we did really well but if you see the level of the opponent it is the small details that are so important.

“Unfortunately, the club made a decision [to sack Van Bronckhorst] and still, I think it was way too early. If you look at the results we didn’t do well in the Champions League but all those things were connected.

“We sat with Ross every day and talked about how we approached things, our decisions. I felt really connected but then the pressure grew with the results and the pressure on the board was really heavy. For me, it still felt too early.”