Lee Wallace: Leading us back to success

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Off the pitch, he strikes you as an unassuming, quiet family man. On the pitch, he's evolving, week by week, into a fine modern-day Rangers captain – one that the club and the supporters can be proud of.

But Lee Wallace's time at Ibrox hasn't always been glittered with triumph and success. When he joined from Hearts in the summer of 2011, he had stiff competition for the left-back slot in the shape of Sasa Papac and at times both would play together down the left-hand side; however, Papac would play further forward than Wallace (usually on the left of a 4-man midfield) because at the time Wallace was widely viewed as the longer-term option at full-back.

He, of course, was part of the squad during the administration period, and his goal in the Old Firm fixture in the April of 2012 brought the fans one of the most memorable Rangers images from the modern era: Wallace, with the number 12 on his back, running towards the Govan Stand (now The Sandy Jardine Stand) with his arms in the air. A truly iconic moment from one of the most difficult periods in our history.

It would be the following summer that Wallace the man would win the respect of all the Rangers support. Many of that side did not TUPE over to the Newco. They perhaps wanted to look after their international interests and many of them moved on to the English Premier League. But Wallace made that sacrifice, leaving behind his international aspirations in favour of embarking on the journey to get this great club back to where it belongs.

Despite a poor season last year, Wallace looks revitalised, hungry and determined to write the wrongs of the last campaign. He looks much, much fitter than he did at any point in the previous season (as do other players) and that is down to the work of the manager and his newly-assembled backroom staff.

During the summer, many thought that John Eustace would sign a deal and immediately become the new Rangers captain after the departure of Lee McCulloch, but that wasn't the case. Wallace has taken on that mantle and has seemed to thrive. Indeed, one could argue the increased responsibility has contributed to him upping his game and becoming a better player.

Even so, Wallace isn’t your normal Barry Ferguson or Richard Gough type of captain; he's more of an encourager and tends to lead by example. He has also had a positive effect on Barrie McKay's overall game. Similar to how Arthur Numan would guide Peter Lovenkrands through matches during the early 2000s. Watching him closely, you can always see him giving advice to young McKay and even when it's one of the other wider players like Billy King or Harry Forrester, he's always giving his input. You can tell that his youth coaching at Tynecastle FC is transferring itself onto the field of play, which can only be a good thing for Wallace on a personal level.

Personally, I believe he has the aura of Davie Weir about him when it comes to being a leader. He is respectful, and speaks well to the media, but when something isn't pleasing him, you know he will be the first to speak up and sort things out in a gentlemanly but fair manner.

He's been in quite magnificent for under Mark Warburton's tutelage, scoring eight goals so far, and giving the fans the great sight of him under-lapping and over-lapping on that left-hand side. And generally being a menace to any opposition that he has faced this season.

In the recent 4-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Dundee, Wallace, now 28, made his 200th appearance for Rangers, and it was somewhat fitting that he would score the final goal in the rout with one of his trademark marauding runs from the left flank.

Post-match he gave his take on reaching that landmark for the club.

"To make my 200th appearance for Rangers was an honour and to score as well was a bonus," he said.

"There is no better feeling than celebrating with our home support, the best support in the world. When you score and run away to see the fans as happy as they are it's a great feeling."

He may not have grown up a Rangers supporter, but he certainly has taken the club to his heart – you only had to look at his celebration against Dundee to see that is the case.

With Rangers being close to clinching promotion back to the top flight, it will bring some closure to the fans and a sense of excitement, but there is one man who has been there all along shoulder-to-shoulder with the fans, and that is Lee Wallace.

I am sure he will see that as one major step completed as he continues to create his own Rangers legacy.

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