If you were to ask a casual football fan the name of their club’s soccer player, chances are, they will likely struggle to come up with an answer for you.
That’s not the case with Rangers fans – they all know Jimmy Bell.
Such was his legendary status among Ibrox loyalists, in fact, that he was affectionately known as “Mr. Rangers” for several years.
A piece of furniture for more than four decades, there is a tremendous amount of sadness from past and present players, club staff and supporters following the devastating news that Bell has passed away.
Rangers confirmed the news in a statement this morning, and the tributes have been greatly rewarded.
Bell was there through it all at Ibrox, setting standards behind the scenes.
From Souness to van Bronckhorstfrom nine times in a row to the Third Division and back, all the success in Europe – the famous man is there.
Over the years
Things are always changing in football, players and managers come and go, stadiums and training grounds undergo big and small changes, but since 1981 at Rangers, that hasn’t changed.
His time at Rangers didn’t begin as a kitten. He initially drives the team bus and helps out as a mechanic, before making his way onto the dugout when Graeme Souness is the manager.
Not even Bell himself could have predicted how long he would have a successful relationship and association with Rangers, as well as what kind of things he would be involved in.
Souness, Smith, Advocaat, McLeish, Le Guen, McCoist, McCall, Warburton, Murty, Caixinha, Gerrard, Van Bronckhorst.
12 different managers over 36 years and Jimmy Bell worked alongside them all, plus those with caregiver magic along the way.
That means he was there to win 18 league titles, nine Scottish Cups, 14 League Cups, three lower division titles and the 2008 UEFA Cup final.
A formidable, respected figure
Bell may not be the chairman, manager, club captain or top scorer, but he is someone who absolutely commands the respect of those around him.
When Giovanni van Bronckhorst Appointed Rangers manager back in November, Bell was one of the first people he reached out to with two men seen sharing a hug.
Having known Bell since he started at Ibrox, van Bronckhorst told the club’s TV channel after his return: “For me Jimmy Bell was a special person because in my early days. in Rangers, I could not come across such a fact Scotsman from the start.
“It is very difficult to understand him but for me he is one of the pillars of Rangers identity so it is a pleasure to see that Jimmy has been at the club for so many years and I look forward to seeing him again.”
As a major character, Bell is almost a formidable figure and many players have talked about having to earn his respect.
In the sentiment shared by some former Ibrox Andy Little said: “No one messes with Jimmy.
“You’ve got to earn his respect and it’s taken a long time! Every club with expectations like ours needs a Jimmy Bell.”
Former Rangers coach Steven Gerrard, a commanding figure in his own right, even joked about Bell: “He’s the boss here, not me.”
Bell also has a great sense of humour, as former Rangers quarterback Lewis Macleod has talked about.
Macleod tells of Bell’s amusing quote when both he and Barrie McKay first stepped up to form Ibrox’s first team.
Macleod recalls: “He was like, god, ‘we used to have De Boer and Mols, now we have Macleod and McKay’.
“It’s the confidence builder you need when you’re in the first team!”
You’ll struggle to find another club whose supporters love their kitty as much as Rangers Jimmy Bell fans.
As social media has grown, so has Bell’s cult hero status among Light Blues believers.
Such is the fan favorite for the robotic cat, Rangers released a Tweet to allay any fears that he is set to report after Jim McAlister’s appointment with post-setup. school at the beginning of last year.
A particularly common scenario with fans is Bell’s decision to have a shaggy gray beard in 2020.
It became a storm with The Light Blues fans on social media, with many noting his resemblance to Star Wars icon Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill played the role.
The reaction to today’s sad news from Rangers supporters shows how highly rated Bell is.
A tweet from one fan summed up the emotion in just a few words: “We love Jimmy Bell.”
Never miss the latest top sports headlines from the Scottish Daily Express. Sign up for our daily sports newsletter this.