Fashion Sakala has opened up on his departure from Rangers after being reunited with the man who allowed him to live his Ibrox dream.

Sakala moved to Glasgow in the summer of 2021 as Steven Gerrard brought him on board from Belgian outfit KV Oostende on a free transfer. But their time together was short-lived and Gerrard quit the club just months later to become boss of Aston Villa.

Sakala played his part in the run to the Europa League final and Scottish Cup success under Giovanni van Bronckhorst but found himself out of favour following the appointment of Michael Beale last November.

His Rangers career came to a premature end ahead of the new campaign and he is now on the books of Roshn Saudi League outfit Al Fayha, where he has scored six times in 19 appearances this term.

The Zambian missed two golden chances to add to his tally at the weekend as he was reunited with Gerrard for a league fixture against Al Ettifaq. Sakala hit the post from a tight angle after rounding the goalkeeper and then later saw a one-on-one shot partially saved before being cleared by former Celtic defender Jack Hendry.

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But it was still a special occasion for the 26-year-old as he caught up with Gerrard before and after the match and spent time reflecting on their respective careers at Ibrox.

Sakala said: “The fans were the best. To be honest, since Gerrard left, I wasn’t the coach’s favourite person. The fans were pushing me to work hard every day because I know they were very happy to have me there and I was doing it for them.

"They didn’t know what I was going through behind the scenes but when I came to the games, I was trying my best to make sure they were happy with my performance. Obviously, I had bad and good moments, but I always tried my best to make sure the fans were happy.

“It's always special to see the man who trusted me playing for Rangers. I had a good time with him, and it was nice to see him. It’s just unlucky that I didn’t score – I tried, I really wanted to score! It’s just unfortunate. It’s always a pleasure to meet such legends in the game and getting good advice from him is always a pleasure.

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“I’m enjoying playing in Saudi Arabia very much. The league is good. I wish I had scored on Saturday; I was really looking forward to scoring and it was just unfortunate not to score. I tried my best and the team played very well.

"That’s the most important thing. I think that the team that we are building is looking very good and I think you could see that in the way we played. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t score but a point is better than losing. I’m looking forward to better games.”

Sakala was deemed to be surplus to requirements at Ibrox ahead of the new campaign as Beale opted to overhaul his squad for his first full term in charge. The striker was joined by Antonio Colak on the transfer list as the likes of Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos moved on at the end of their Ibrox deals.

And Gerrard was relieved his former Light Blues star didn’t come back to haunt him as the Saudi League fixture finished goalless.

Gerrard said: “You could see in the game against us that he was a threat and I’m glad he never scored because I wouldn’t have heard the end of it! But I love Fashion Sakala, he’s a special boy, and he should never change.

“Fashion Sakala is one of the nicest, most humble guys I have ever met, never mind coached. He’s a wonderful boy – he’s happy, he’s bright, he wants to learn every day, and he appreciates being a professional footballer. He was a joy to coach and work with and I’m so happy that he is doing well here.”

Sakala still keeps a close eye on events back in Glasgow as Rangers continue their recovery this season under the guidance of new boss Philippe Clement. Victory over Livingston on Sunday kept the deficit to Celtic at just five points in the Premiership title race.

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The Belgian has made an impressive start to life in the dugout after being appointed as Beale’s successor last month and Sakala knows all too well the quality and the character that Clement possesses after seeing him at close hand during his time on the continent.

“I think Rangers got the right man,” Sakala said. “I know him from Belgium when he was Genk and Brugge manager. When he was at Genk, they were flying.

"He left Genk and they went down, and he went to Brugge, and Brugge were flying. So, I think Rangers got the right man to do the job there and I can see already the results and the way the team is playing that they are doing very well.

Rangers Review: Philippe Clement applauds the Rangers support after victory at Livingston (Steve Welsh/PA)

“Mostly he’s a very offensive coach and he likes getting goals. He is always looking for his team to score first in a match. I’ve played a lot against him in Belgium and both of his teams, Genk and Brugge, were very offensive when he was there. I think they got the right man, and you can see that Rangers are flying again.

“The big question is ‘can Clement win the league?’ And I think looking at the way the team are performing, I am very positive. Rangers are looking good. Of course, the other team are doing well but I’m a Rangers boy and I hope Rangers keep winning and win the league. I’d be very happy for them to win the league.”