Kenny Miller never had the easiest of relationships with Rangers fans. After his switch from Easter Road in 2000 in the first of his spells in Govan, he experienced a slightly strained existence with the Ibrox faithful. Not only was his second departure (in 2011) extremely unpopular and in rather ignominious circumstances, but it compounded his joining on that second occasion in 2008 having had a spell at the wrong end of Glasgow too.
So when he returned for a third time having enjoyed lavish surroundings in Canada’s Vancouver MLS outfit, it was only greeted with muted applause.
Circumstances were different this time. Rangers, out of admin and well into The Journey, were unable to be overly picky about the quality of player coming in, and a wily veteran like Miller had undeniable attributes which could serve Ally McCoist well. Some were unhappy given the way he had previously left, and his obvious age issues, but a small number were pleased that a player who had been so prolific at Ibrox previously had returned.
There was also the simple fact he had given up a well-paid gig in the cushy surroundings of Canada in the vastly higher level MLS for Scotland’s League One and a gritty battle through the bowels of lower league SPFL football.
The simple fact was Kenny Miller had leapt at the chance to come back to the club he loves.
He never wanted to leave, but felt he had to, and he was going to prove his worth to Rangers, one way or the other this time.
And how. Sure, things were maybe a little patchy under Ally in 2013/2014, but under McCall then Mark Warburton, Kenny Miller has been an outside bet for most important player at Ibrox.
His form has improved beyond even what his most ardent admirers (myself being one) expected, and he has blossomed in the twilight of his career.
Leading by example, he was one of the few to get pass marks in the infamous playoffs, and under the Hat he has scored many critical goals, while showing a previous unseen ability to lie as a deeper playmaker, a number 10 if you like behind the striker.
Add to this his incredible work ethic where the lad never says die, and never gives up, always working off the ball to make space and guide his team mates, and it becomes abundantly clear just how indispensible he has become, and how any new signing is going to have to prove themselves worthy to start in his place.
Miller became an absolutely pivotal figure last season, winning over even his biggest doubters. The number of people to admit he proved them wrong has been positively heartwarming, but those who know his quality knew he would.
He is now genuinely popular with Bears – it took him, effectively, his whole career to achieve that, to achieve what some are even considering ‘legend’ status, but truly good things come to those who wait and deserve them.
He may well see himself as the leading man up front next season – he might not play every single match but his contribution to the team, the club and the institution as a whole has been, as Warbs would say, ‘first class’.
He is even looking at life beyond playing, getting into his coaching badges and learning about life off the pitch, much like his esteemed colleague and captain Lee Wallace is doing.
But the truth is, both of these great men are captains in their own way, and Kenny Miller, despite being perilously close to the big four oh is only as old as he feels – and he might as well be 27.
Good enough for the SPL? You bet he is.