When you fight on four fronts in terms of competitions like Rangers do, you’d often have a player who features more in one than the other three combined. Well that’s exactly what Brahim Hemdani did during the 2007/08 season under Walter Smith.
That season not only cumulated in a European final, but that game would also mark the end of the career for the midfielder at the age of just 30 – one in which many fans wondering if he could have done more.
Hemdani arrived at Ibrox in the summer of 2005, with Alex McLeish bringing him to the club from Marseille on a free transfer.
The club had been believed to have beaten off stiff competition for the Algerian’s signature, with Bayer Leverkusen, Real Betis and then EPL-outfit Bolton interested in bringing him in.
Strong rumours at the time were that his agent had offered Hemdani to Celtic on numerous occasions in the months prior to his Rangers move being finalised.
Signing on a four-year, his first year in Glasgow didn’t prove to go as planned, as injury would prevent him from making his debut until October. Not only that, but the Rangers squad he was joining was coming to the end of its cycle under McLeish, with several of the first-team squad struggling as the team finished behind BOTH Celtic and Hearts in the league.
With the arrival of Paul Le Guen in 2006, Hemdani was cement his place as the pivotal performer in the middle of the park, despite the team continuing to underperform, making 36 league appearances over the campaign under both Le Guen and then Smith after he took over the reigns in January 2007.
He’d even manage to bag two long range goals against Celtic and Osasuna at Ibrox as he’d finish the season securing the club’s Player of the Year award.
Despite this, it was clear that Hemdani wasn’t a favoured option for Smith going forward, with the gaffer having brought in Kevin Thomson just weeks after his arrival, with the likes of Lee McCulloch and later Steven Davis coming in as part of a big upturn in the squad over the course of the 2007/08 season.
With his guaranteed place in the middle of the park no longer a certainty, Hemdani would be a near ever-present in what would prove to be a historic European campaign for Rangers.
As the club contested 19 matches in the Champions League and UEFA Cup, making the final in Manchester for the latter, Hemdani would start in all bar one of these games, playing a key role as the holding player in a central midfield three with Thomson and captain Barry Ferguson.
In what seems a strange occurrence in the modern day though, he’d only play 13 times across all other competitions during the season, despite the fact that the club was chasing a quadruple of trophies and the squad appeared to be on their last leagues towards the end of the campaign as they were forced to play four games in a week at one point.
Between Rangers first UEFA Cup knockout tie against Panathinaikos and the season’s end, Hemdani would play just two league games, one of which came in a 3-2 defeat to Celtic at Parkhead which would prove vital in taking the title there that season.
As a result, the French-Algerian would understandably request a move away from the club to seek more regular football, with clubs in the England keen to sign him.
However, a move would fail to materialise, and Hemdani would depart the club when his contract expired in 2009, with the defeat to Zenit in Manchester one year prior being his final outing in Blue.
He’d never get a move to another club afterwards, going on to quietly retire.
Despite never being the most exciting player to watch, Hemdani would play a crucial part in what was at the time, a difficult transition period for Rangers. For that, the support will never forgot the impact he made in his short stint appearance wise.