Derided star now a significant performer in high-flying Glasgow Rangers ambition
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By Ed Emeanua
Cyriel Kolawole Dessers has gone from Ibrox whipping boy to a near cult hero, having assumed significant role in Glasgow Rangers frontline under mercurial boss Phillippe Clement this term in the Scottish Premiership.
Dessers has scored a total of 8 goals in all appearances this term which includes 5 goals in 13 games in the Scottish Premier League alone. The Super Eagles forward has also scored 1 each in the 2023-2024 UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and the Scottish League Cup.
Nigeria manager José Paseiro’s Super Eagles strikers cup brims full with top options, with the Rangers forward now adding his name to his selection headaches just as January’s Africa Cup of Nations draws well-nigh.
Rangers were surprise 3-2 win at Real Betis in their Europa League Group stage game on Friday in which Dessers played a star role in Gers’ recording their first ever away defeat of a La Liga opponent at the 14th asking.
Rangers gambled at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, choosing to duel against a side that remained unbeaten at home since May, rather than scurry into their shells.
Their rolled dice came tops with goals from Abdallah Sima, Cyriel Dessers, and substitute Kemar Roofe edging out Betis – who plummeted into the Conference League – to shoot atop of Group C.
The feat also translates to the possibility of a Rangers participation in this year’s showpiece in Dublin following their last 16 progress on Friday, 19 months after their heartache in the event’s final.
Yet, at the tail end of October, Dessers, who had scored just once in the league since his £4.5million summer move from Italian side Cremonese, was the source for the derision of Ibrox fans.
The Gers faithful wanted the Nigerian forward discarded from the team and even made the world to know just how bad they felt about Dessers’ misfiring stint in Glasgow. But, new boss Clement was adamant he had the blue print to save the sinking Nigeria international’s Gers career.
Having worked with Dessers during his managerial stint in Belgium, the Belgian believed it was just too early to write-off the 28-year-old forward.
He had this to say in October: “I’ll give him all the tools for that, and then it is about him doing it. That’s the same for every player. We will give them the tools to get the best out of them. Then it’s for the player to take it.
“I have seen this process before, and you always have surprises. I had it in Genk. I had two strikers there, Nikolaos Karelis, who was scoring all the time, and Ally Samatta, who didn’t play. Everyone said, ‘The guy never scores’.
“But we worked really hard with Ally, he became better, and after a few weeks I put him in the team more and more, and he started to score. The next season he was top scorer in Belgium and the season after, he made a good transfer to Aston Villa. So we will invest in all the players to get the best out of them. Then it’s up to them.”
In life, time and time again, history has demonstrated constancy for repeating events. Just as it did few years back in Genk for Clement, the future has done it again for the Belgian, this time underneath the Glasgow skies. Though the circumstances and locations may differ, the themes are always the same.
Clement is happy to see Dessers silence his Ibrox critics with a sensational solo exertion that restored Gers lead amidst goals from Juan Miranda and Ayoze Perez.
He said: “Cyriel was one of the guys on the plane who I talked to with the video to improve things, and you see he is really working hard to do the things how we want the striker to play.
“The frustrating thing for me is that I had to make a change at half-time when Jose Cifuentes picked up a muscle injury, so I’m not happy about that.
“But then you saw Dujon Sterling came in and played a really good game in midfield. That’s the mentality we need, everybody fighting for the team but with quality on the ball.”