Rangers legend Ally McCoist was overcome with emotion after the Ibrox giants reclaimed the league title from arch rivals Celtic with a 3-0 final day win at Dundee United. McCoist, the assistant manager who is expected to eventually succeed Walter Smith in the Ibrox hotseat, was close to tears as he celebrated on the pitch at Tannadice.
"It's been a long season and I've never wanted anything more in my life than for those boys to win that championship," the former striker said. "I could cry for them, I really could. It's just unbelievable."
McCoist said the triumph was a reflection of the influence of Smith, who left the Scotland manager's post to return to the club in January 2007. Last season, in his first full campaign back in charge, Smith guided Rangers to a Cup double, the UEFA Cup final and only missed out on the league title on the final day of the season.
"Look at the man's record since he came back and it's some achievement," McCoist said. "If you don't learn from that man, you shouldn't be in the game at all."
Smith himself offered plaudits to his players, who had looked out of the title battle at the turn of the year. "We had to produce a performance today and I thought we were terrific," he said. "I felt at the stage in late December when we went well behind Celtic that we would lose out. But we haven't. We've had a good spirit in our team.
"I can't remember a season maybe where we've had as many difficulties to overcome," said Smith. "But we've managed to do it."
Rangers captain David Weir said: "It's unbelievable, a great feeling. We've worked hard this season and it's a great finish." Asked if he expected the match to be so easy, Weir added: ""You've got to give our boys credit as well. I thought we played really well."
Deposed skipper Barry Ferguson, who came off the bench today, was delighted to play a part in clinching the title. The midfielder's Ibrox career looked over when he was stripped of the captaincy and suspended without pay for two weeks after an all-night drinking session resulted in his Scotland career coming to a premature end.
"I didn't think I would come back to play," said Ferguson, who suffered what appeared to be a season-ending injury last month. "I was just delighted to be involved last week and today. I made a mistake. I'll learn from that and we'll see what happens now."
Ferguson has been linked with a summer move from Ibrox, but asked if he wanted to stay, he replied: "Of course. Rangers is my team. I'm just going to go and enjoy the night."
Rangers' win rendered the result of Celtic's meeting with Heart of Midlothian meaningless and, after a drab goalless draw at Parkhead, manager Gordon Strachan acknowledged that his side had slipped from the levels that had enabled them to claim three straight titles.
"We weren't up for the challenge of winning four in a row," Strachan said. "It is disappointing, but we have only ourselves to blame. We will analyse it later on, but it doesn't take a genius to see that in some areas, we weren't as good as we have been in the last three years."
Strachan went on to offer congratulations to Rangers. "We know how difficult it is; it's not easy to win championships," he said. "There is a lot that goes on.
"So we congratulate them and I'm sure we will give them a run for their money next year," he said. "We congratulate them because we think we can win with dignity and hopefully lose with dignity."
Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo played down speculation he is set to leave the club, but acknowledged that he is looking for more investment from the club's owner Vladimir Romanov.
"I have experienced players leaving and you can't play with children," he said. "We need the club to take a chance next season. We have done a good job this season, but we don't want to go down from third place."