Alexander Content to Be Special Reserve at Rangers; Neil Insists His Trophy Tests Make Up for a Life Spent in the Ibrox Shadows
Byline: Fraser Mackie
WHEN Neil Alexander is bouncing inquisitive grandchildren on his knee and they ask if he really did spend all those years on the bench as a deputy to Allan McGregor, the Rangers back-up has a play on the truth for a response.
'No, I was the goalie they brought in for the really big games,' he can counter, while pointing at the array of medals in a bulging trophy cabinet.
This afternoon, Alexander enters centre stage once again in his role as the Rangers No 1 of the Co-operative Insurance Cup campaign.
His six starts in the competition over the last two seasons account for half his outings for Walter Smith's side in that time.
That tally would be considered a paltry return on loyalty for most goalkeepers with international experience but Alexander is a rarity in having his lust for success satisfied.
If he can keep Motherwell's forwards at bay this afternoon, then he will be 90 minutes away from his second League Cup Final. The 32-year-old had a clean sheet to celebrate as part of the nine-man defeat of St Mirren in last year's showpiece.
Of course, this Hampden lark is rather old hat for this reserve. Alexander has two Scottish Cup Final wins to his name, the first coming just days after playing against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup Final in 2008. That, of course, after emerging victorious from a semi-final penalty shoot-out in Florence.
He was the benefactor of McGregor's propensity for acts of stupidity on and off the park when drafted in to deputise in the aftermath of his colleague's club suspension the following season as Rangers won out from April and pinched the league on the final day at Tannadice.
It is just as well Rangers have offered Alexander the platform to win more silverware as his formative years were spent winning Second then First Division titles with Livingston before landing a promotion play-off medal with Cardiff City.
'Since I've come here, the trophy cabinet has got a lot bigger, so it's not a bad CV for a second choice,' stressed Alexander.
'I've played in numerous semi-finals and finals. I've played 42 games and won seven medals -- it's incredible. That says it all for me.
'Obviously, it is frustrating and difficult at times and I'd love to play more, but the good outweighs the bad.
'Look at my medal collection, look at the semi-finals and finals I've played in, look at the Old Firm games and European games. It speaks for itself and I don't need to prove anything to anyone.
'I came to Rangers to play in big games and I have done. It gives you a taste for more and I've got another on Sunday. …