Rangers fans have paid an emotional farewell to veteran striker Jermain Defoe after his departure from Ibrox was confirmed earlier today.
The 39-year-old brought his three-year stay in Glasgow to an end after making just two appearances off the bench this season.
While his influence on the park may have faded over the past six months, it is clear he epitomised the ultimate professional off, serving as a role model for his team-mates and the Light Blues academy youngsters.
Defoe was handed a player/coach role in the summer by previous Gers boss Steven Gerrard but was later removed from the role following the appointment of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who opted to bring in his own backroom staff.
He leaves Rangers after scoring 32 goals in 74 appearances, with the club posting a video montage of his Ibrox highlights on social media.
Defoe posted a parting message on his Instagram page, which read: “From the moment I arrived at Ibrox in January 2019, I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of Rangers Football Club.
“There are so many people to thank. From team-mates, coaches and staff, to the fans who have given me so much love and support from the very first day.
“Winning my FIRST ever league title last season was one of my career highlights and making it 55 title wins at this football club makes it even more special.
“A season I will simply never forget and memories I will cherish forever. Rangers Football Club will forever hold a special place in my heart.
“Thank you for everything, and good luck for the rest of the season. #WATP”
The former England international has certainly created a lasting impression on supporters, with several hoping he will return to receive a fitting send-off.
@gamble1917: “@IAmJermainDefoe will always be one of us. It was a pleasure to watch this master of his craft playing in a Rangers shirt. Thank you Jermain, best of luck in your future endeavours and who knows, you may be back someday.
@menzies999: “What an absolute top pro Mr Defoe. Sad to see you go but absolutely over the moon I got to see you in the famous blue and lifting the league trophy above your head. All the very best in whatever you do next. Once you join the Rangers family you will always be part of it.”
@craig_emc: “Sad times but it’s been a privilege to have you @IAmJermainDefoe. The epitome of professionalism and class on and off the field. I wish you the very best for the future - you’ll always be loved by everyone at Rangers. Come back and see us sometime for the goodbye you deserve.”
@Derek_Downie: “It’s been a pleasure watching Jermain represent the club, a class act on and off the pitch. Delighted he was part of what we achieved last season, will be remembered well by everyone at the club.”
@realsnakeharper: “Thank you @IAmJermainDefoe. An honour to have had your services for the last 3 years! A class act on and off the park. Wish you all the best for the future. ONCE A GER, ALWAYS A GER.”
@RuaridhHarry: “Absolute pleasure to have had you as a player at our great club. Easily one of the best finishers I’ve seen pull on the blue jersey. You promised to bring the trophy home and you did! All the best JD.”
@zippyjnr78: “What a career, what a man, a football legend. Good luck in your next job, you’ll smash it.”
@theboysof609: “A pleasure to have watched you play in the famous Royal Blue JD... Who can forget your outstanding 300th career goal versus Livingston or that stunning goal versus Celtic. A great ambassador and champion of our club.”
@SpecksRSC2: “All the best. What a privilege it was to have such an iconic English player that for sure made his mark with his team mates. I hope they’ve learned from a truly remarkable fella with the humble, desire and pride he shows daily. Thanks JD!”
Meanwhile, Rangers midfielder Stephen Kelly is heading out on loan to English League side Salford City until the end of the season.
Several Scottish clubs, including Kilmarnock, Dundee United and St Johnstone were all chasing the 21-year-old’s signature but Kelly reckons a move down south will enhance his prospects of making the breakthrough at Ibrox next season.
The Scotland youth international is rated highly by club officials and has been on the fringes of the first-team in recent seasons without nailing down a starting spot.
Kelly previously spent successful loan stints at Ayr United and Ross County and with 18 months remaining on his current deal in Govan, he will hope to impress once more.
It is believed a personal request from Salford’s co-owner and Manchester United legend Paul Scholes helped sway the deal.