Giovanni van Bronckhorst revealed the pride he was feeling after Rangers beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0 to reach the Champions League for the first time in 12 years.
After a 2-2 draw against the Dutch side in the first leg of the play-off at Ibrox last week, another absorbing encounter was settled in the Philips Stadium by Antonio Colak’s tap-in on the hour mark for a 3-2 aggregate win.
Rangers will take their place in Thursday’s Champions League group-stage draw along with Old Firm rivals Celtic.
The Rangers boss said: “It is a very proud moment. I know what it means for the fans, for the club, to be playing in the highest level in Europe, competing with the best teams.
“I think it is a proud moment for all of us.
“I have played many games as a player, coached my team Feyenoord in the Champions League and now I have the opportunity to experience it with Rangers so it is very proud moment.”
The Dutchman noted that Rangers had re-emerged in the bottom tier of Scottish football in 2012 after a financial meltdown and had battled back to the Europa League final last season, where they lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville – and now back to the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
The former Rangers player said: “You know where the club comes from, 10 years ago we were at the lowest point in history.
“And it took really hard work from everyone involved to build the club back again to the level that we are now so it is a proud moment for me to thank all the people who gave so much energy and time to build this club back up again.
“Seville was a proud moment for us to compete to try to win the club’s second European trophy in history and we have the same moment to be in the Champions League draw and compete against the best teams in Europe.”
Van Bronckhorst had controversially left Alfredo Morelos out of his squad due to fitness levels and attitude but he offered an olive branch to the Colombia striker.
He said: “Morelos qualified for the Champions League as well.
“I think he is also proud to see his team-mates and club qualify for the biggest competition in the world.
“He is still a Rangers player and I will push him the way I can to get him fit and get the Morelos back we all want.”
Malik Tillman, who set up Colak for the winner, told BT Sport: “It feels amazing.
“Everyone wanted to be in the Champions League and we did it today and it is an amazing feeling.
“We worked altogether as a team, tried to score and defend as best as we can, it was very important not to concede a goal. We did the best we could and got the win in the end.
“I can’t wait to play in the Champions League. I am looking forward to it.
“It was 12 years ago that the club was in the Champions League so I guess everyone is a bit hyped to be back and we will try to do our best and go as far as possible.”