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This has been a defining season in the career of Carlos Cuéllar, the defensive rock upon which Rangers FC's drive to the UEFA Cup final has been built.

Fans' favourite

The unheralded Spanish centre-back, who was voted the Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year last week, arrived at Ibrox last summer from Primera División side CA Osasuna and, 60 appearances in all competitions later, has established himself as a firm favourite among Rangers fans. Cuéllar admitted his move from one of the world's strongest leagues to play in the rough-and-tumble environment of Scottish football raised some eyebrows in his homeland. However, the 26-year-old is confident Rangers' success this season, both domestically and in Europe, has more than justified his decision to swap Pamplona for Glasgow.

'The right choice'

"When I came to Rangers, I told people I was going to a big club; that I would have the chance to play in Europe, in the [uEFA] Champions League and to win trophies," Cuéllar said. "In Spain, I had been playing with a club whose resources were limited. But at Rangers, I have the chance to win every competition and test myself against the best players in Europe every year so I know I made the right choice. What we have achieved this season is proof of that."

Historic moment

Cuéllar, who reached the UEFA Cup semi-final with Osasuna in 2006/07 – after defeating Rangers in the Round of 16 – insists victory against FC Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday evening would be the greatest achievement of his professional career. However, having watched video footage of Zenit's convincing wins against Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern München in the quarter and semi-finals respectively, Cuéllar believes Rangers' encounter with the Russian champions will be their toughest test yet.

'A good chance'

"Zenit have a very strong team, with lots of pace in every position. For them, like us, it's an opportunity to make history so they will be as determined to win as we are. They clearly have a strong mentality. I watched footage of their game against Leverkusen and they played some great football. This match will be very different for us. It's the biggest game of our season. We have the chance to achieve something incredible and, personally, this is the biggest moment in my life as a professional footballer. In eight UEFA Cup games this year, we have only conceded two goals and we have players in attack who can score against anyone. For me, we have a very good chance to go and win the UEFA Cup."


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