European success vital - Johnston

15 February 2011 07:30

Former Rangers hero Willie Johnston has underlined the importance of a European trophy to the Govan club ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon at Ibrox.

Johnston was in the Gers side which beat the Portuguese club on aggregate en route to winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1972. While there is a school of thought which says Ibrox boss Walter Smith should perhaps focus more on their fight with Old Firm rivals Celtic for the domestic treble, Johnston is not convinced.

When asked about the importance of winning a European trophy in 1972, Johnston said: "It was massive."

He added: "We got beat in the Cup Winners' Cup final by Bayern Munich in 1967 in Nuremberg a week after Celtic had won the European Cup.

"We remembered that when we got to the next final in 1972 and it was important but any European competition is important. Ask any clubs if they want to win the Europa League,(they will say yes) and for a Scottish club, it is massive."

Johnston admits Smith's relatively small squad and a potentially packed fixture list will make it difficult for Rangers to go all the way in the tournament and in their battles with Celtic - but believes the Light Blues can certainly get past Sporting in this round.

He said: "It is going to be very hard for Rangers because they will end up playing a lot of games.

"I don't think the squad is as big as Walter wants it to be and that might tell in the end. Celtic are playing very well and had a great result [3-1 away win] in the SPL against Dundee United on Sunday.

"But I think Rangers have a good chance in this tie because Sporting Lisbon are not playing too well. I think Rangers will shade it over the two legs."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
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