Fans love it as Gareth McAuley awarded MBE for services to N.I football
Photo by Johann Schwarz/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

Fans love it as Gareth McAuley awarded MBE for services to N.I football

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.

Sheer joy after McAuley gave Northern Ireland the lead on that famous day in Lyon. (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

The centre-back challenges Sergio Aguero in the Premier League back in January. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.