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I needed all of my heart to win SPL


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By ROGER HANNAH

LORENZO AMORUSO gave his all in the fierce battle to win the first-ever SPL championship.

Rangers’ captain strained every muscle and used every ounce of energy in the quest to see off Celtic.

The Italian was emotionally and physically shattered when the title was finally secured.

So much so that he barely had enough left in his arms to raise the huge silver trophy to the skies.

As the SPL celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend, Amo told SunSport: “It was so heavy I could hardly lift it.

“It was the first trophy I won as Rangers captain and, of course, I’ll never forget it.

“But when I was handed the trophy I was impressed by the sheer size and weight of it.

“All the players mentioned it during the celebrations. It’s funny how you remember these things.”

Amoruso cherishes so many fond memories of his silver-strewn spell as Gers skipper under Dick Advocaat.

But landing back-to-back titles in the first two seasons of the newly-formed SPL are among the best recollections of all.

He added: “The first season I think we finally clinched the league at home to Dundee.

“The second year we won it at St Johnstone, although I think Celtic had slipped up the previous day to effectively hand it to us.

“No one can change history and no one can take those titles or those memories away.

“The celebrations were great and the fact these were the first-ever SPL championships was something special for me.”

Former Gers and Blackburn defender Amo is aware of the strides taken by Scottish football in the decade since the SPL was set-up.

He said: It’s definitely got better and better over the last decade.

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“You only need to look at the way Scottish clubs, and the national team, are improving all the time.

“Rangers reached the UEFA Cup Final last season and Celtic have reached the last-16 of the Champions League two years running.

“Aberdeen also did well in the UEFA Cup last season, so that shows the quality is improving.

“The national team did well in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, too, so that says all you need to know about the strength of the Scottish game right now.

“I think it can get even better in years to come.”

Amoruso’s first two titles under Advocaat were achieved with just a handful of Scots in the squad.

But the Italian feels the development of homegrown talent has been one of the bonuses over the past decade.

He said: “It has been great to see clubs developing good, young Scottish players and bringing them through to the first team.

“Rangers have players like Chris Burke and Celtic have guys like Stephen McManus who have come through the ranks.

Celtic also have Scott Brown who was raised as one of the talented kids at Hibs.

“A lot of the development of youngsters began when Rangers invested in Murray Park.

''It’s much easier for managers to bring on players if they have the right space and facilities.

“I know Celtic, Hibs and other clubs now have their own training grounds, too, and that’s great.

“You also have good youth coaches in Scotland. Just look at how many good players have come through at Hibs over the years.

“People have followed the idea that Rangers had with Murray Park and it is really beginning to work.

“The organisation and the facilities for youngsters in Scotland are now good.

“The kids are taught not only how to train but also what to eat.

“People think that it’s simple — but it’s not.

“Conditions have to be right for kids to come through and things must be run correctly.”

Amo reckons the SPL is one of Europe’s best-run leagues and feels it could even expand.

Speaking from his home in Florence, he said: “It is an elite league and time will tell if it stays at 12 teams.

“I think there is scope to add another two or maybe four teams in years to come.

“I don’t think there will ever be 18 or 20 teams like in Italy, England or Spain.

“But I think more teams will eventually come in and the SPL can grow even stronger.”

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/ho...icle1523663.ece

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