TERRY Butcher was well aware of the impact that Steven Gerrard had made as manager at Rangers and fully appreciated the huge importance of the win over Celtic at Ibrox to supporters.

But a chance encounter with celebrity chef and lifelong fan Gordon Ramsay hundreds of miles away in the south-west of England over the festive period really drove home to him just how much his old club have moved forward this season and how excited their followers are as a result.

“I was in a restaurant in Wadebridge in Cornwall having my usual bucket of beer when who walked in but Gordon and his wife,” said Butcher at Hampden yesterday as he looked ahead to the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round match between Cowdenbeath and Rangers at Central Park on Friday evening.

“I thought I’d send across a drink with the message ‘From one Rangers legend to another.’ I wouldn’t normally say that, but I thought I’d better go big! He came over. The first thing he wanted to talk about was Rangers’ victory over Celtic four days earlier. He was ecstatic about that and so was I.

“That summed up how much progress has been made on and off the pitch. I’d imagine Steven would be pleased about Gordon Ramsay talking about it.”

The arrival of England captain Butcher and his international team mate Chris Woods at Ibrox in the summer of 1986 after Graeme Souness had been appointed manager proved the catalyst for Rangers to emerge from a long period in the doldrums.

The 60-year-old can see parallels between that era and what is happening in Govan now under Gerrard, particularly with Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe coming in.

“It takes me back to when Graeme was bringing in big players from England, international players,” he said. “That gives everyone at the club a huge lift. I don’t know how much Rangers are paying towards their wages – not 100 per cent, obviously – but it’s great. This can work really well for Rangers. The fans will love having both players here and they will love it as well.

“They’re top-class players. I think they can offer so much and not just on the field. Midfield players can go to Davis and ask him this and that about how they can improve. Jermain, meanwhile, could be the ideal role model for Alfredo Morelos. When I heard Rangers had signed him my first reaction was that it was a really bold move, but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a good one. I don’t see anything negative about it.”

Butcher helped the Glasgow club end a seven year wait to win the league in his first season in this country. But can James Tavernier and his team mates lift their first Scottish title in eight years this summer? The former skipper urged caution. He does, though, believe they are good enough to lift silverware.

“Beating Celtic was a big achievement for Rangers fans all over the world, especially given the manner of the win,” he said. “But you can’t get carried away. Celtic have great experience of going through the whole season and ending up with the title. They may have poked the bear. Celtic will have woken up after that defeat thinking: ‘Let’s get our act together’, which they can do quite well.

“But Jermain hasn’t won many medals up until now and he’s come to a country where Celtic have been winning everything. Is he going to win much here? He has the opportunity to write himself into the history books by becoming the player who helped Rangers finally get over the line, whether that’s in the Premiership or the Scottish Cup.

“Now you can say there’s actually a good chance they can go all the way. The Old Firm game was a massive boost for everybody concerned with the club and who supports the club. These two boys coming in has kicked it on a bit further.

“Celtic have brought players in, but they haven’t brought in players of the same calibre in terms of their experience, what they have done, what they can give to teams and the name they bring along as well.”

But Butcher added: “I believe the winter break could work in Rangers’ favour. Gerrard’s players would have been dying to play again after that win, but I think a few of them were running on empty by that stage and the rest will do them good.

“I’ve always believed that this break is good for players, not just physically but psychologically as well. It allows everyone to get back on track because Rangers have difficult away games coming up. They can re-focus now. Celtic would have been itching to get back into action after losing but Rangers have had the chance to regroup and readjust and get everything right again.”

Premier Sports will screen live and exclusive coverage of Cowdenbeath v Rangers (Fri 18 Jan) and Celtic v Airdrieonians (Sat 19 Jan) in the Scottish Cup. Available on Sky, Virgin Media and via the Premier Player, new subscribers can get their first month free. Visit www.premiersports.com for details.