Andy Halliday will be a radio pundit on Wednesday night openly declaring his wish to see Rangers beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final in Seville.
The same guy will be a Hearts player on Saturday afternoon, doing everything he can to beat Rangers in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.
If you suffer from a suspicious mind and don’t believe it’s true, that’s not Halliday’s problem.
There is a quote attributed to him that sums up his affinity with the Rangers.
“I wasn’t a Rangers fan from the day I was born,” he said. “It goes back further than that.”
But what Halliday won’t sit back and accept is being accused of being unprofessional in doing his job honestly against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side.
“Anyone who knows me well will understand that idea is a bunch of nonsense,” he says.
“Professional footballers play for the love of the game and because they are competitive by nature.
“There is no doubt what I will be trying to accomplish on May 21 and I know Hearts have a team that is more than capable of beating Rangers.
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“My motivation is that I’ve never won what I would call a meaningful trophy in my career – and I’m 30 now.”
One could easily argue that Hampden owes Halliday one to make up for a succession of heartaches suffered there.
He scored a superb goal for Rangers against Hibs at the National Stadium in the 2016 Scottish Cup final but considers that day one of the low points of his career.
“Any pro will tell you the lost cup finals are the ones you remember the most,” Halliday says.
“Rangers were 10 minutes away from winning the trophy and the memory of what happened next, and the crowd scenes at the final whistle that ruined the day still sting.” The same description could just as well apply to the infamous day when Rangers caretaker manager Graeme Murty replaced him two minutes before half-time, when Celtic were already two goals up at the half. -final.
Television images of the player raging against the manager’s decision remain vivid in the minds as opposition supporters ridicule him.
But his memories of Hoops fans singing “There’s Only One Andy Halliday” aren’t etched in his memory, whatever one might think.
“Look, I was lost in myself at that point,” he recalled.
“I thought the timing of the substitution was unnecessary, but I’m not the resentful type.
“I have since spoken to Graeme about what happened and he has apologized to me.
“I even understand where the Celtic fans were coming from that day. When I was in the stands at Ibrox for Old Firm games I sang about Neil Lennon every chance I got when he was a player.
“Then, as a player myself, I got to know him as a consummate professional and a stand up guy. It’s all part of the rivalry.
Halliday grew up in Govan. The Copland Road stand at Ibrox was at the end of his garden and he got his first season ticket when he was four years old.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve,” he says. “I remember going to my first Old Firm game and Celtic losing 3-1 at Ibrox.
“Walter Smith, God rest him, took off on the touchline in front of the fans after one of the goals and that mental image never left me.
“I spent five memorable years playing for Rangers but, over time, I developed a great love for Hearts.
“We will approach this cup final full of confidence, but we will not rely on what happens to Rangers in Sevilla to impact them in Hampden.
“Everyone thought 120 minutes against Braga at Ibrox in the quarter-finals would wreak havoc on them. It’s not.
Halliday might have attended the first leg of the Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig, or even watched the game live on TV.
He did neither because, a few weeks earlier, I had asked him to help me organize a fundraiser for a school that helps children with learning difficulties and whose my daughter is part of the teaching staff.
I waited every day for the phone call to say he should cancel on me because of the date conflict.
He never came because he believed he was as good as his word.
Halliday is a walking case of mistaken identity.
The person I got to know working with him at Radio Clyde is nothing like the pantomime villain he seems to be to people all over the country.
“I can’t identify a date or a game when I acquired this image,” he says.
“But I never take anything personally.
“I live in the goldfish bowl of Glasgow, but I like to think I give respect and I get it back.
“I always believe in giving people the time of day because I was once a young fan and I remember what it was like to go and see players out of the park and hope a good reaction.”
He also remembers his parents allowing him to take a maths exam at school to accompany them to Manchester in 2008 for Rangers’ UEFA Cup final against Dick Advocaat’s Zenit St Petersburg.
It wasn’t the best of nights in the end, but Hearts can count on Halliday to test on their behalf at Hampden next weekend.
“There is a lot of growth in this team,” says the 30-year-old.
“And the future can be built on players who still have plenty of time left on their contracts.
“I recently signed a two-year extension myself and I feel fit enough to hope I can go beyond that as well.
“I lost a Scottish Cup final to Celtic when Covid meant there were no crowds there and it was a surreal experience for someone like me who thrives on the fact that fans make football.
“I intend to make up for that disappointment at Hampden when it sells out on Saturday.”