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WHEN Marvin Andrews joined Rangers last summer the giant Trinidadian knew he faced a mammoth battle with Jean-Alain Boumsong, Craig Moore, Zurab Khizanishvili and Bob Malcolm for a regular slot at the heart of Alex McLeish's defence.


However, in the ten months that have elapsed since Big Marv first walked into Murray Park - sporting that infectious trademark grin - he has swept all competition aside to cement a place in the Light Blues backline plus and the hearts of the Ibrox legions.

Eyebrows were raised when Andrews was recruited from Livingston - the general perception was he was signed as a mere squad player - but the 29-year-old colossus has produced a series of consistent performances this season and his breathtaking form was rewarded last Sunday evening when he bagged the Rangers Players' Player of the Year honour at the Hilton Hotel.

Fernando Ricksen, Nacho Novo, Stefan Klos and young strike star Ross McCormack were also recognised at the glitzy ceremony.

Marvin, though, was given the biggest cheer of the night, receiving a well-earned standing ovation from team-mates and supporters when he collected his prize."

This is a great honour for me," Marv told Rangers World.

"It is very special because my team-mates voted for me and I would like to thank them all for helping me achieve so much this season.

"It is a tremendous honour to play for Rangers but this is something really special. The guys here are so lovely and we have a great bond so to get their vote means so much.

"To get the Player of the Year trophy is a tremendous honour because there are so many great players here.

"Dado, Nacho and Fernando have all been top guns for us this season so this award is amazing. "God has blessed me again.

"I know a lot of people didn't think I could succeed when I first joined this club but I confident and I always stayed positive. I told myself I could play at this level and I think I have shown I can do a good job for Rangers.

"When I left Livingston I knew I wouldn't walk straight into the team. I had to earn the right to play in the Rangers first-team.

"There are a lot of top defenders at this club but I have been given the opportunity and the rest is history."

With pleasure there is always pain - as ace comic duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer noted in a recent television campaign for Muller Light Yoghurt - and Marvin has endured his fair share of heartache this season.

He was cruelly robbed of a place in March's CIS Cup Final thrashing of Motherwell - which would have earned him a second successive winners' medal - due to the knee injury he picked up in the 2-0 win over Dundee a week earlier.

Andrews, who scored a vital header at Dens Park that day, landed awkwardly after challenging Dee striker Steve Lovell late in the game and was taken off as a precaution.

Scans revealed the giant defender had sustained ligament damage and he was told surgery would be required to correct the problem.

However, the devout Christian informed the club he would prefer not to go under the knife and has leaned heavily on his faith to help him work through the problem.

His strong religious beliefs have certainly helped guide him through what has been a difficult period because he was back in Alex McLeish's starting eleven for Celtic, just 42 days after hobbling off at Dens.

"I respect the medical people at Murray Park but I don't want to have the operation," He said.

"I know it is hard for people to understand but God has given me strength and I am not concerned.

"I have my own beliefs, God is in control of my life and I believe my knee is going to be perfectly fine.

"I don't feel any pain and there have been no problems. I appreciate the doctors and specialist want to help. I respect that but I put my faith in a higher power.

"However, I am so thankful and grateful to all the people who have supported me during this time."

Andrews turned in another solid performance in last Sunday's 3-1 win at Aberdeen, managing the full game on a treacherous pitch, and he will continue to play a key role in the remaining SPL matches.

With just three games to go, Rangers are back in the title hunt - with a little help from Hibs who beat Celtic 3-1 at home last Saturday - and Marv is confident the Light Blues can still finish the campaign with the top prize.

He concluded: "The championship is a big possibility and I believe in my heart we can do it.

"The manager and all the players here know it can still happen. We are all confident and we will work hard in the last three games.

"It would be amazing to finish my first season at Rangers with the championship."