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Friday, 16 October 2009 19:32

Portugal hero Pedro Mendes returns to Scotland on high

Midfielder speaks on Rangers life

Pedro Mendes is currently living some of the best moments of his career so far, having earned glowing reviews across Portugal for his part in helping the Seleccao to a World Cup play-off place with victories over Hungary and Malta.

Now the 30-year-old midfielder returns to domestic action with Scottish champions Rangers, where he enjoys a similarly high status. Speaking to Record at the airport on his way to Glasgow, Mendes, who many believe has played himself into Portugal's first-choice starting line-up, was asked about his experiences in Scotland since his move from Portsmouth last summer, and in particular his standing amongst the Gers supporters.

“All the players are of the same level, I’m no different to anybody else,” he insists. “I’ve been very well received here. The first person I spoke to when I arrived was Sandy Jardine, who is part of the history of the club and played for Rangers between 1965 and 1982. He showed me around and explained about the mystique of the club, before I even spoke with the president and sports directors.”

Mendes’ popularity at Ibrox also owes something to his performances against arch rivals Celtic, against whom he famously scored just weeks after signing for the club. Asked about the rivalry between the clubs supporters, which extends beyond the pitch and often into religious and political disputes, Mendes admits that there is a strong sense of anticipation in the build-up to the ‘Old Firm’ derbies.

“The rivalry is many years old and the feeling is very passionate,” he said. “The week leading up to the Old Firm matches, I tend not to go out much, because the atmosphere is more intense. I must stress, though, that I have never felt intimidated or been mistreated. There has always been plenty of respect from the fans of both Rangers and Celtic.”

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