Sport is a matter of small margins, the difference between winning and losing. It’s also the difference between having a long, successful career or being plagued by injuries and never fulfilling your potential.

At a time when Rangers are blessed with a small, powerful, ruthless goalscorer I couldn’t help but think of another South American who was also the first from his country to play for the club.

Signed in January 1997, Sebastian Rozental was a 20-year-old built like a modern day scrum-half. McCoist, Durie and Hateley were all at the end of their careers and previous attempts at finding replacements in Europe had been unsuccessful. He was a Chile international and had won Chilean Player of the Year for 1996. This wasn’t just a league award either, he beat Ivan Zamarano and Marcelo Salas, two of the finest strikers in Europe in the 90s.

Rangers had signed one of the most promising young strikers in world football for just £4m. He was joining a team that already had the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup. Sometimes signing a player from abroad can be a gamble, especially from as different a culture and a relatively low profile league despite the passionate nature of fans. Rozental had all the pedigree to suggest that this was no gamble but something of a coup instead.

As with most signings, especially forwards, Rozental was given his debut off the bench. He featured at the end of a 3-1 away victory, Laudrup, Gascoigne and Albertz the somewhat predictable goal scorers. The following week he made his first start for the club playing alongside Erik Bo Andersen against St Johnstone at Ibrox in front of 45,000 in the third round of the Scottish Cup.

Most of us old enough to remember can still see the way Rozental was played through by Gascoigne, the way Rozental moved the ball onto his favoured left foot and then slid the ball calmly into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 for Rangers before half-time. What a way to announce your arrival.

But this was the last we saw of Rozental in 96/97. Match reports said he had been replaced by Durie as the game was won and Durie was making his first appearance for 4 months so game time was invaluable. However, in later interviews Rozental admitted he was injured as early as the first minute but refused to go off, playing on until half time. The next time he played was over a year later. As I said, sport is about small margins. If he makes a different run he doesn’t injure his knee, if the ball isn’t passed to him, he doesn’t injure his knee.

In four years Rozental played 21 games and scored 6 goals. Despite, sadly, never becoming the player he should have been, he looks back on his time at Rangers with fondness. Comparing Walter Smith to his father and that the way he is treated by the Rangers support makes him feel like he’d scored 100 goals. To this day he believes he didn’t need surgery but went with the specialist’s opinion, only for the same specialist to make a mess of his operation resulting in two and a half years of complications.

He came close to rediscovering his form under Dick Advocaat when he was still young at just 24. If Rozental had his time again he says he would have stayed for the remainder of his contract that still had over 2 years to run in 1999/2000. He managed a goal every three games in his final season and can be proud that he was only on the losing side once in his short Rangers career.

He became something of a journeyman after he left Rangers but he was never the same player and was always troubled by his problematic knee. His experiences at Rangers are being put to good use now though as he works for an agency helping South American players to settle in Europe. Hopefully, his services won’t be required as “El Bufalo” continues to tear up Scottish football, who cares if he doesn’t know the language when he so obviously knows where the goal is?!