Sandy Jardine: Majestic footballer whose service for Rangers and Scotland saw him hailed as one of his country’s most revered players

Sandy Jardine was a footballing thoroughbred, one of the most stylish all-round performers the Scottish game has known. His name will always be synonymous with Rangers, with whom he lifted multiple honours, including the European Cup-Winners’ Cup in 1972, but he also gave stalwart service to Heart of Midlothian late in his career, stretching his total of senior appearances to beyond the 1,000-mark, and he accumulated 38 international caps, nine as captain, featuring in the World Cup tournaments of 1974 and 1978.

Clean-cut and lithe, Jardine was a delight to the eye. Particularly in his premier position of overlapping right-back, but also as a defensive sweeper or midfielder and even, in one Ibrox spell, as a thrustful centre-forward, he combined elegance, composure and natural ball skill with intelligent reading of the play, plus the speed, strength and resolution necessary to capitalise on those more subtle attributes.

He was born in Edinburgh, not far from Tynecastle, the home of Hearts, but was unearthed from the ranks of junior football by Rangers in 1963-64 and turned professional with them in December 1965. Reaching the first-team ranks at the end of a glorious period for the Light Blues, he made his League entrance as an 18-year-old in February 1967 as part of a reshuffle by manager Scot Symon in the wake of a shock Scottish Cup defeat by Berwick Rangers. Jardine was deployed at right-half, with John Greig moving to the left, and after shining in a 5-1 drubbing of Hearts at Ibrox, he retained the No 4 shirt for the rest of that season, which he climaxed with a spectacular goal in a 2-2 draw with champions Celtic on the final day.

His progress was confirmed by his imposing form in that season’s Cup-Winners’ Cup, culminating in a sterling effort in the 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Nuremberg final, a display which earned lavish praise from his opposite number, one Franz Beckenbauer. However, with Celtic, guided by the inspirational Jock Stein, embarking on an era of crushing dominance, Jardine did not settle instantly into a side in transition under new manager Davie White, who tried him as a spearhead, with some success, during 1968-69.

Switched by White’s successor, Willie Waddell, to right-back in 1970-71, Jardine gained fresh momentum, collecting his first major gong when Celtic were beaten in that season’s League Cup final, then starring in the following year’s continental triumph. Ever-present in the Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign, he contributed a goal at Ibrox to the 3-1 aggregate win against Bayern in the semi-final and excelled in the 3-2 final victory over Dinamo Moscow in Barcelona, an occasion marred by drunken fans whose pitch invasion at the final whistle condemned the club to a suspension from European competition.

By now Jardine had attained full international status, collecting his first cap as a substitute for Celtic’s David Hay against Denmark at Hampden Park in November 1970, and soon establishing a magnificent back-line partnership with another Parkhead star, Danny McGrain. They were hailed widely as the top full-back pairing of the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany, playing in all three games as the undefeated Scots were eliminated on goal difference at the first group stage.

Rangers were on the threshold of renewed and sustained glory under Jock Wallace. Jardine, a strong, dignified character of unimpeachable integrity and a natural leader, captained the team to the League title in 1974-75 and was named Scottish Footballer of the Year. There followed two more championships, in 1975-76 and 1977-78, which were both part of domestic trebles, and by the time he was released to join Hearts as a 33-year-old in 1982 – a ludicrous move in the eyes of many Ibrox regulars – he had helped to win the Scottish Cup and League Cup five times each. His international career had ended in 1979, his input into the previous year’s World Cup finals in Argentina having been limited to one game due to injury.

With 674 games and 77 goals, some of them penalties, at Rangers, Jardine started afresh at Tynecastle, where his majestic form as sweeper made the decision of his former employers to dispense with his services look utterly daft. This was particularly so in 1985-86, when he was an inspirational presence as the Jambos went agonisingly close to a fabulous double, losing the title to Celtic on goal difference and the Scottish Cup final to Aberdeen. The scale of his contribution was recognised by a second Footballer of the Year award. At 37 he was the oldest recipient and the first to win it twice.

Jardine, who died of cancer, played on for Hearts until 1987-88, including a spell as joint manager with his former Rangers team-mate Alex MacDonald, after which he set out on a business career. He was not finished with the game, though. Later he worked in the commercial department at Ibrox, then took charge of scouting and player liaison, among other roles. More recently, when the club went into administration, he was a key force behind the Rangers Fans’ Fighting Fund and he led a march of thousands to Hampden Park to protest at sanctions imposed on the club.

IVAN PONTING

William Pullar Jardine, footballer: born Edinburgh 31 December 1948; played for Rangers 1964-82, Heart of Midlothian 1982-88; capped 38 times by Scotland 1970-79; joint manager of Hearts 1986-88; married (one son, one daughter); died 24 April 2014.

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