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FOOTBALL: LAUDRUP MADE NUNO A NO-NO; Great Dane blocked Capucho moving to Ibrox 7 years ago.

Byline: ANTHONY HAGGERTY

RANGERS winger Nuno Capucho could have been at Ibrox SEVEN years ago.

The Portuguese star was recommended to then Gers manager Walter Smith by chief scout Ewen Chester.

The trouble was one man was playing in the same position - Brian Laudrup.

But now that Capucho has finally arrived, he is hell-bent on scooping Scotland's major prizes - and taking Rangers as far as possible in the Champions League.

He reached the last eight of Europe's elite competition in season 1999- 2000 and even scored against Real Madrid.

Capucho said: "I know how much it means to the club to play in the Champions League and realise it will be difficult to get in.

"But there is enough quality at Ibrox. The club has a big reputation in Europe. That was one of the main reasons that attracted me here and I had little hesitation in signing.

"There are top-class players at Rangers such as Stefan Klos and Ronald de Boer. They have impressive reputations and I look forward to playing with them, especially de Boer.

"He is a technical player and I believe we can work well together.

"I'm here to win everything and try to make sure the club goes as far as possible in the Champions League.

"Europe can be difficult but I am fresh from a great victory with Porto in then UEFA Cup and would love an extended run in the Champions League.

"I know Rangers supporters are passionate and want success so I hope to show them I have the desire to bring it."

That desire could have been on display before now but for the talents of Laudrup.

Chester said: "I watched Capucho a few times when he was with Guimaraes and made a high recommendation to Walter Smith.

"However, we had Laudrup and could not fit him in. But it's great Nuno is with the club now and I'm sure he'll be a hit with the fans."

Capucho, 32, is a product of the Portuguese youth team that ruled the world in 1991 and were coached by the newly appointed Real Madrid boss Carlos Quieroz.

The 34-times capped player is still hopeful he can play his way back into the Portuguese side for Euro 2004 on home soil. He was part of the squads for Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup so he is aiming for a hat- trick.

Capucho told Rangers News: "Next summer in Portugal is going to be special. To play in a major tournament in your own country is something every player would want.

"I want to be there and if I can do a good job at Rangers and achieve success then the coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, will pick me."

As if he hasn't endeared himself enough to the Ibrox faithful Capucho pointed out that he has always got the better of Celtic in Europe.

He first came up against them in the 1993-94 UEFA Cup with Sporting Lisbon and despite losing the first leg 1-0 at Parkhead he went through, winning 2-0 in the second leg.

Then he helped Porto destroy the Hoops in the Champions League 3-0 after losing 1- 0 at Celtic Park in the opening group stages in 2001-2002.

And, of course, seven weeks ago Porto beat Celtic in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville.

Capucho said: "I know Old Firm games are huge and have already sampled the atmosphere at Celtic Park so I'm looking forward to these occasions."

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta's move to Atletico Madrid is still ON despite the club sacking coach Luis Aragones.

The veteran boss was axed on Tuesday and it was thought his removal could kill the deal.

But a a club source said: "We are still looking to bring Arteta here. The move was coming from a higher level, so nothing has changed, irrespective of who becomes manager."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 10, 2003
Words:644
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