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The numbers behind Tavernier’s ‘exceptional’ record



With 131 goals and counting, Rangers captain James Tavernier continues to rack up strikes like a forward rather than a defender.

The right-back’s volley in Saturday’s win over Hibernian made him British football’s highest-scoring defender, a feat hailed as “quite exceptional” by Rangers manager Philippe Clement.

Tavernier is a regular penalty taker and so too is the man he overtook to make history, former Scotland full-back Graham Alexander, as well as ex-Manchester United stalwart Steve Bruce, the previous record holder with 114.

But it has taken Tavernier just over half the games Alexander needed to reach his mark.

Four hundred and fifty of Tavernier’s 572 club appearances have been for Rangers, and all but eight strikes in his record-breaking goal haul have been for the Ibrox club.

Here’s how his career goals break down…

EFL years

The Bradford native started his career at Newcastle United, from where he had six loan spells. His first five goals came during the last of those loans at Rotherham United.

He joined Wigan Athletic in 2014 and Bristol City on loan the following year, with his stint at the Robins yielding three goals.

It was his performances in the EFL that caught the attention of Mark Warburton, who signed him for Rangers in 2015.

Accurate from the spot

From 82 attempts, Tavernier has converted 65 penalties, not including those taken in shootouts.

That gives the Rangers skipper a 79% scoring rate from the spot, lower than Alexander’s 90%, but fewer of Tavernier’s tally overall have been penalties.

Tavernier started taking spot-kicks at Ibrox in 2017 and has barely looked back. He took a break from penalty duty in 2019-20 but was back on spot-kicks the following campaign as Rangers won the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 10 years.

This season, 13 of his 22 goals have been penalties but he did have one saved prior to breaking the deadlock against Hibs on Saturday.

Big-game goals

Twenty of Tavernier’s Rangers goals have come in Europe, with 15 of those in the Europa League.

That has proved crucial as the Ibrox side have enjoyed several lucrative runs in the competition, including a memorable journey to the final in 2022.

Tavernier has also come up trumps in cup competitions for his team. He scored two of Rangers’ three goals in this season’s Viaplay Cup semi-final win over Hearts and netted the winner against Aberdeen in December’s final.

Tavernier sealed his first League Cup winners’ medal with this goal against Aberdeen

Dead ball and volley specialist

It’s not just from the penalty spot that Tavernier has showed his prowess at dead balls.

Indeed, his first Rangers goal, in a 6-2 Challenge Cup win over Hibernian, was a free-kick. He ended that tournament with a volley in the 4-0 final win over Peterhead at Hampden.

Other highlights include his recent free-kick equaliser in a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock and a long-range strike to seal a 3-0 victory at St Mirren earlier this season.

Three of Tavernier’s five Old Firm goals have been free-kicks, but only one in a Rangers win. His set-piece in last season’s 3-2 defeat at Celtic Park was one of his most impressive goals.

Not just a scorer

Tavernier is part of the meanest defence in the Scottish Premiership, with only 17 goals conceded in 30 league matches.

That miserly streak will be tested in a huge title showdown next weekend when Rangers host Old Firm rivals Celtic.

“I’ve recently obviously started to score against them but I’d love a clean sheet,” Tavernier said.

“I’m never satisfied,” he added in the wake of victory over Hibs. “I’m always wanting to better myself, make an impact on the team, set an example in how I play

“I’m raging with how we conceded because I probably blame myself for the [Hibernian] goal. I lost my man. But it’s how you respond from that.”


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