Gordon Smith harbours some regrets over his playing career but not many.

One of them, though, in fact the biggest, is that Rangers did not win the European Cup in 1979.

Smith is convinced the trophy hoisted aloft by Nottingham Forest’s John McGovern after beating Malmo should have been sitting at the top of the Ibrox marble staircase at the end of a season that promised so much and ended in bitter disappointment.

And that’s despite a Scottish Cup victory at the third attempt over Hibs in the final and the League Cup retained in the trophy room.

The loss of the league to a 10-man Celtic team was a knockout blow to John Greig, who made the jump from the dressing room to the dugout after Jock Wallace’s shock resignation in the wake of winning the Treble the previous season.

But more than 40 years on, it’s missing out on the big one that still hurts Smith.

The former Rangers midfielder admits he didn’t always see eye to eye with his former team-mate and Ibrox icon.

However, he firmly believes that Greig’s legendary status could have been cemented even more firmly by leading the club to glory in that year’s European Cup.

The Italian champions Juventus were seen off in a never-forgotten night at Ibrox before Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven were beaten in their own backyard, only for injury-hit Rangers to lose by a single goal over two legs to Cologne in the quarter-finals.

“To this day, that IS my biggest regret in football that we didn’t win it that year because, no disrespect to Nottingham Forest, we could have,” Smith said.

“We knocked out Juventus, beating them 2-0 at Ibrox after losing 1-0 in Turin. In all honesty, they could have won 10-0 that night but big Peter McCloy was brilliant and it set us up for an amazing night at Ibrox.

“They were hot favourites to win the tournament and had seven players in that team who went on to win the World Cup for Italy.

“Dino Zoff was in goal, Gentile, Bettega, Cabrini, Tardelli, Scirea and Causio were all part of that Italy squad in 1982.

“It was stunning to beat them 2-0. Wee Doddie (Alex MacDonald) scored to level it on aggregate and I got the goal that took us through. It was an incredible night.

“Then we beat PSV 3-2 in Holland after drawing 0-0 at Ibrox. We played brilliantly that night and became the first team to beat them on their own patch in Europe.

“So we were flying and were really confident by the time it came to playing Cologne in the quarter-finals. But it was a bad winter that year and a lot of games were cancelled, so we were trying to fit fixtures in.

“Unfortunately, injuries and suspension hit us hard and we drew 1-1 at Ibrox and lost 1-0 in Germany.

“I am convinced that with our strongest team, we’d have beaten them and they went out narrowly to Forest in the semi-finals.

“Forest then beat Malmo in the final and I’m sure we’d have beaten them but we’ll never know.

“I still believe we could have won the European Cup that year. I know we did Forest a favour by knocking out Juve.”

Smith admits he went through a rollercoaster of emotions that season, starting on a massive downer when hearing that Wallace had quit the club.

He said: “I was still living at home at the end of that season and it was my mum who told me Jock had resigned.

“Honestly, it was like a death in the family. I was absolutely gutted.

“I had done enough to show that man what I was capable of and now he was gone.

“We didn’t expect the new manager would be Greigy because he was still playing for us.

“I had, and still do have, the ultimate respect for John Greig.

“But he and I didn’t really hit it off. I just don’t think I was his type of player. That’s the bottom line.

“I really wanted to play in midfield but because I wasn’t a tackling type of player, Greigy didn’t really see me as a midfielder.

“We won the two cups that season but it still felt like a failure because we lost to Celtic in the last league game for them to win the title. So Greigy could have had a great start but it didn’t happen.

“That loss to Celtic was hard to take. I know it has gone down in their history because we were 1-0 up and they had a man sent off and came back to win 4-2 but maybe the mind plays tricks on you because I honestly don’t remember anything about the game itself.

“My sole memory is all of us sitting in the dressing room in complete silence for what seemed like ages.

“Even a draw would have given us a chance to win the league in the final game of the season but it was gone.

“It was devastating to have lost to 10 men but I can’t remember anything about the goals or the sending off.

“It was a season that promised so much and winning two trophies was a decent return. But when you’re at a club like Rangers, losing the league in that fashion was unacceptable.

“It could have been one of the greatest seasons in the club’s history. It would’ve been had we gone all the way in the European Cup but it wasn’t to be.”