Rangers reach the Europa League final: Where are the class of 2008 now?

We find out what happened to the Rangers team that reached the 2008 UEFA Cup final as the club prepare for their first European final in 14 years in the Europa League.

By Tim Williams Published: 17 May 2022 - 5.06pm

Rangers summoned the spirit of 2008 to reach their first European final in 14 years in the Europa League.

They have dispatched the likes of Red Star, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig to reach the showpiece in Seville where they will take on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Back in 2008 Rangers were beaten 2-0 in the UEFA Cup final by Zenit Saint Petersburg in Manchester.

Ahead of their shot at redemption, we look at how the players who featured fared after that night and what they are up to now.

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Neil Alexander

Goalkeeper Alexander only signed for the club in January 2008, but the Scot played a pivotal role in the run to the final in place of the injured Allan McGregor.

He was unable to prevent a 2-0 defeat to Zenit and left Ibrox five years later in 2013.

After retiring as a player, he was a goalkeeping coach at Dundee United. He’s currently coaching at Dunfermline Athletic, and is also registered to play, although he has yet to make an appearance for the Pars. 

Kirk Broadfoot

Broadfoot was a regular fixture in the 2008 UEFA Cup campaign and played every minute of the campaign.

He left Rangers in 2012 after five years, representing Blackpool and Rotherham in England before returning to Scotland.

The 37-year-old is still playing for Scottish Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle and last week scored the winning penalty against Arbroath last week to put his current employers within one match of a return to the Premiership. 

David Weir

Legendary defender Weir ended his playing career at Rangers in 2012. Since then, he has had a brief spell as manager of Sheffield United and assisted Mark Warburton at Brentford, Rangers and Nottingham Forest.

He has recently been promoted to the role of assistant technical director at Brighton, working alongside Dan Ashworth.

Influential defender Weir spent five years at Ibrox before calling time on his playing career in 2012

Carlos Cuellar

Spanish defender Cuellar only played one season for Rangers, making a total of 65 appearances for the club, which included playing every minute alongside Broadfoot in the fairytale UEFA Cup run.

Aston Villa secured his services in August 2008, and he spent four years at Villa Park before moving to Sunderland. He hung up his boots in 2019, stating his desire to move into management.

Sasa Papac

Ibrox cult hero Papac was a popular figure among supporters and one of the unsung heroes of the 2008 squad.

The Bosnian, who was capped 39 times for his country, retired in 2012 and has since worked as a scout for his national team and the Director of Football at FK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo.

Brahim Hemdani

The 2008 final was defensive midfielder Hemdani’s last ever game at club level despite being voted Rangers’ Player of the Year by fans in 2007.

Capped twice by Algeria, he made his name in France for Cannes, Strasbourg and Marseille before moving to Glasgow. Hemdani is currently the manager of French non-league side Courbevoie. 

Algerian midfielder Hemdani did not make another senior appearance after the 2008 final

Barry Ferguson

Ferguson spent most of his career at Rangers and was captain in the 2008 final in his 400th appearance for the club.

He retired from playing in 2015 and has since had managerial spells at Clyde, Kelty Hearts and Alloa Athletic. The 44-year-old left Alloa in February and works in the media.

Kevin Thomson

Midfielder Thomson joined Rangers in 2007 and was a key member of the 2008 team.

He left the club for Middlesbrough in 2010 and went on to play for Hibernian, Dundee and Tranent Juniors before retiring in 2016.

He returned to Ibrox as a youth coach, before being appointed as manager of Kelty Hearts in 2021, replacing former Rangers team-mate Ferguson.

Steven Whittaker

Scorer of an iconic goal against Sporting en route to the final, Whittaker was replaced by Kris Boyd after 86 minutes against Zenit.

He joined Norwich in 2012 and went on to play for Hibernian and Dunfermline Athletic, before taking up a coaching role at the Scottish League One club.

He recently joined Fleetwood Town as assistant head coach, working alongside former Old Firm nemesis Scott Brown.

Whittaker has linked up with Scott Brown at Fleetwood Town

Steven Davis

Davis will become the fifth player in the club’s history to appear in two European finals if he features against Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Northern Irishman, who initially joined boyhood club Rangers on a six-month loan deal in 2008, played every minute against Zenit 14 years ago and re-joined the club in 2019 after seven years at Southampton.

Jean-Claude Darcheville

Incredibly, the final was the only time French Guianese forward Darcheville ever completed the full 90 minutes for Rangers.

The forward, who infamously missed a glorious chance against Lyon in the Champions League, played an important role in the run to the final.

He returned to France with Valenciennes in 2009 and retired in 2014 after playing a season for AJ Saint-Georges in French Guiana.

Notable mentions

Striker Kris Boyd, who came on in the dying minutes in the final, now works as a pundit after retiring in 2019.

Club legend Nacho Novo, who made 179 Rangers appearances, was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2014 and opened a bar in Glasgow in 2017.

Lee McCulloch, also on the bench in Manchester, is assistant manager at Hearts, while Charlie Adam is still playing for Scottish Premiership club Dundee.

Amdy Faye, Christian Dailly and Graeme Smith completed the bench and all three have retired since that famous night at the City of Manchester Stadium, with the latter currently coaching Rangers' academy goalkeepers.