ALISTAIR EDWARDS rubs shoulders with royalty, Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs in his role as technical director for hugely ambitious Malaysian football club Johor.

He travels the world with Crown Prince Tunku Ismail – the club’s billionaire owner – and was actively involved in securing a special tie-up with one of Spain’s elite clubs, Valencia.

However, the only thing on his mind on Friday is Firhill, where his son Ryan will attempt to help Partick Thistle to their first win of the season when they meet Rangers and because it is the venue where he made his one and only appearance for the Govan club.

Edwards spent 18 unforgettable months at Ibrox at the start of the Souness Revolution, when he worked every day with top English stars Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and Ray Wilkins as well as homegrown heroes like Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and Davie Cooper.

He also had the audacity to pinch Ian Ferguson’s job 25 years after the two of them trained together at the Albion under the watchful eye of Graeme Souness and Walter Smith.

Edwards said: “I went to Ibrox straight after the World Youth Cup in Chile in 1987 when I was asked to come for a trial and I was there for about 18 months.

“Having grown up in Australia to Scottish parents, I knew about Rangers and Scottish football, but I had no idea how big it was.

“I came at a very exciting time because Graeme Souness and Walter Smith had just won the championship and I was training with the first team.

“It was surreal actually, because I was rubbing shoulders with players I had only seen on TV like Richard Gough, Ray Wilkins, Chris Woods and Terry Butcher.

“That was fantastic, but the problem for me and the other young players like John Spencer and Gary McSwegan – who I became very friendly with and still am – was we couldn’t get in the team in front of all of these senior professionals.

“But I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world. Working in that environment was unbelievable.

“It’s amazing that my only first-team appearance with Rangers was against Partick Thistle at Firhill and Ryan is playing there now.

“It was a Glasgow Cup semi-final in April 1988 and we won 2-1 and we had guys like Davie Cooper and Jimmy Nicholl in the team, so it was a strong side.

“I also played and scored in an Old Firm reserve game in front of nearly 25,000 at Parkhead.

“It would have been great to get more opportunities, but it set me up for a great career in Australia and Malaysia and I went on to play for the national team.

“Now I’m travelling the world with the Crown Prince meeting people like Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs and setting up deals with Valencia as we try to make Johor the major force in Asian football.”

Fatefully, four years ago Edwards crossed paths with one of his former squad-mates – but not in the best circumstances.

Ian Ferguson was fired by A-League side Perth Glory and Edwards was brought in to replace him.

He said: “It’s strange what can happen in football. I remember Ian Ferguson coming to Rangers from St Mirren for nearly £1million when I was there.

“Then 25 years later, I replaced him as head coach of Perth Glory.

“I was national assistant technical director at the time and it was an interim position, but we got to the finals so I was given a contract and worked the next season too.

“Dave Mitchell was also coach at Glory so they have a number of Ibrox connections.”

Edwards is back in Australia for a few days and will get up in the middle of the night to catch the action from Firhill.

He said: “Every time I speak to Ryan he sounds so happy. He’s found a club that is a good fit and he’s getting regular football.

“I’ll try to catch the match online. I believe it’s 25 years since Partick last beat Rangers, but you never know.

“I was over last year and I saw Ryan play against Rangers and they were only a couple of minutes away from winning, so that should inspire them.”