Late last night, it emerged that summer signing, Gareth McAuley, has a spot on the New Year’s honours list. The defender is being given an MBE for services to football in his native Northern Ireland.
It comes while the 39-year-old remarkably continues to press on with a stellar international and club career.
He has an outstanding 80 caps for his country, earned over the last thirteen years.
For a defender, he also has an excellent nine goals to his name, including Northern Ireland’s first ever in a European Championships during the 2-0 win over Ukraine in 2016.
As a club footballer, he spent time at Linfield, Ballyclare Comrades, Crusaders and Coleraine, before heading to England to make it big.
Amongst others, he went on to make over 200 Premier League appearances for West Brom.
Now though, he is finally getting the chance to represent Rangers, the club he supported since childhood.
Before injury struck on the road at Hibs, he had forged a strong centre-back partnership with Connor Goldson.
Last night, many Bears took to Twitter to congratulate their man.
Class big man – congratulations 🔴⚪🔵🇬🇧
— Mr Staunch (@Boothy1872) December 28, 2018
Well deserved!!! 🔴⚪🔵👏👏👏👏👏
— 👑𝕊𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕪 ℙ𝕖𝕣𝕖𝕣𝕒👑 ⭐⭐💛💙⚡️⚡🏴 (@QueenSandy_CFC) December 28, 2018
Congratulations Gareth. 👏👏
— alan john long (@Long19Alan) December 28, 2018
McAuley is a major doubt ahead of today’s Old Firm. Yet, that didn’t stop the odd fan hoping this news would spur him on to success on the pitch.
Scoring the winner tomorrow will get you a knighthood never mind an MBE
— Mr M (@MBS1872) December 28, 2018
Congratulations. What a way it would be to top it off with a win too 😉
— David Gibson (@gibbo89) December 28, 2018
Today’s match may come too soon for the Northern Irishman.
Regardless of his current fitness though, this is an incredible achievement for a consummate professional, who will always have cult hero status in his homeland.