James Tavernier has told disappointed fans that Rangers will “come back stronger” following their Europa League disappointment on Wednesday night.
The Light Blues fell short at the final hurdle with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville after the game had ended 1-1 following 120 tense minutes.
Tens of thousands of supporters travelled to Spain – most of them without tickets – and will now turn their focus to Saturday’s Scottish Cup final against Hearts at Hampden Park.
Rangers captain Tavernier was “devastated” by the defeat to the Bundesliga outfit but reached out to the supporters, saying: “I couldn’t be more proud of them. I thank them very much for the support they give us.
“We all feel the support they give us, 100,000 people going to Seville, from everywhere, I couldn’t be more proud.
“This isn’t the end of us, we will come back stronger and make them proud.”
Joe Aribo put Rangers ahead at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in the 57th minute after capitalising on a slip in the German side’s defence.
However, Frankfurt levelled 12 minutes later when Rafael Borre got ahead of his marker to turn home a low cross.
Gers finished extra time strongly and Ryan Kent, Steven Davis and Tavernier all went close to snatching a winner.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men could not find the breakthrough though, and Aaron Ramsey, a 117th-minute substitute, saw his spot-kick saved in the shoot-put before Borre netted to seal victory for Frankfurt.
Tavernier said: “I was devastated, devastated with the way the game unfolded. To lose on penalties is tough to take.
“We took the lead and conceded a goal we probably should have done better with.
“Their goalkeeper made a fantastic save from Ryan towards the end and he saves a penalty.
“Devastated is the word but also proud of every single person associated with Rangers, every single player in the dressing room, the journey we have been on, the fans who have followed us from everywhere.
“Our dream on Wednesday night was to make everyone proud and we obviously didn’t push it over the line but the effort that the boys put in, I couldn’t be more proud.”
“We will use this (defeat) as fuel. We want to be in these finals again,
“We want to be pushing for these types of games, we will use this as fuel for seasons to come and this weekend.
“I know every lad in the dressing room will give it 110 per cent when it comes to the weekend, we obviously want to pick that trophy up.
“It is a massive game, we take every game as a massive game, no matter who we are playing. We will give it everything to pick up the trophy.
Tavernier gave full backing to Ramsey, whose saved penalty by Frankfurt hero Kevin Trapp proved to be the difference on the night.
He said: “It’s not a nice thing obviously. I have been in the same position.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him because he stepped up and took a penalty and it’s just football.
“We will be around him and we will finish the season on Saturday as strong as possible.”