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‘Devastated’ Rangers target Europa League final after death of kitman

Glasgow (AFP) – Giovanni van Bronckhorst said Wednesday he trusted in the character of his Rangers players as they seek to overturn a Europa League semi-final deficit against RB Leipzig while mourning the death of their kitman.

The death of the popular and long-serving Jimmy Bell at the age of 69 was announced by the Scottish club on Tuesday as the players were preparing for the second leg of their tie at Ibrox.

“Yesterday wasn’t about keeping the spirits high,” said the Rangers boss, whose side lost the first leg in Germany 1-0.

“We were all shocked by the news that Jimmy passed away, it was a hard day for all of us.

“I think everyone was really down as you could imagine, so yesterday we didn’t do a lot. We were at the training ground, but the atmosphere was very down and still in shock.”

Van Bronckhorst said he and his players were determined to “give everything we can to make everyone proud, especially make Jimmy proud”.

“We still mourn, we are still down, but the character of my players is the best I have seen in any teams I have coached and I am sure tomorrow that the character, the determination will be there and we will do everything to reach the final,” added the former Feyenoord boss.

“Today we are back and we are going to try to prepare as well as possible for tomorrow. I think we will be ready.”

Captain James Tavernier admitted it was a “devastating” time for everyone associated with Bell.

“We all mourned Jimmy and obviously people are still doing it now, but I know Jimmy wouldn’t want the fuss,” he said. “He would want us to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in tomorrow.”

Van Bronckhorst said it was too soon to know if forward Kemar Roofe and on-loan midfielder Aaron Ramsey would be fit to play — they have not featured since the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic at Hampden Park last month.

“When they got injured we all knew that they would work towards the game tomorrow,” he said.

“Of course I will wait as long as possible.”

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