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Algeria's Madjid Bougherra ready to tackle England

Algeria's Madjid Bougherra said tonight's match against England is 'the game of my life' and the defender cannot wait to match up against Wayne Rooney.

sports Updated: Jun 18, 2010 12:00 IST

Algeria's Madjid Bougherra said tonight's match against England is 'the game of my life' and the defender cannot wait to match up against Wayne Rooney.

Algeria's Madjid Bougherra has described the match against England tomorrow night as "the game of my life". Walter Smith, his club manager at Rangers, is just delighted it will be over long before the start of the new Scottish Premier League season.

Bougherra has made something of a habit out of late returns from international duty. Lost passports, keys and phones have played a part in the reasoning relayed back to Smith at Ibrox.

Last November, after Algeria sealed their qualification for the World Cup, there was no elaborate excuse given for Bougherra's delay in reaching Glasgow: the players were simply partying in the company of the country's president.

Bougherra's journey to the grand stage ranks as one of the more circuitous at this year's World Cup. Dario Gradi plucked him from France's second tier in 2006 for a loan deal at Crewe Alexandra, during which Bougherra could not prevent relegation to League One. A short spell at Sheffield Wednesday followed, before Charlton Athletic paid 2.5m for the centre-half's services. The same fee took him to Rangers in August 2008 with Charlton by then a Championship side.

Tomorrow, Bougherra will come up against Wayne Rooney. The pair have faced each other before although the England striker may well have erased it from memory. "I only played five games for Charlton in England's top flight," Bougherra said last month. "But one was against United and I can tell you that I managed to keep Rooney off the scoresheet.

I'd love to do it again when we face England in Cape Town."

Smith was only partly jesting when Bougherra publicly stated he would remain at Rangers for the second half of last season, rather than seek a return to the Premier League. "That's good of him," Smith said. "He's come a long way since Charlton reserves, you know."

Indeed he has. Bougherra was the subject of speculation linking him with Barcelona and Sevilla in recent months despite only featuring 23 times for Rangers in their title-winning campaign. The 28-year-old has played in just three Champions League matches in his career. Occasional lapses in concentration are Bougherra's main on-field flaw; his clear
attacking sense either a benefit or hindrance depending on the circumstance.

Defensively, however, Bougherra is robust yet composed. His physicality is suited to Scotland. Those who may scoff at the reported valuation put on his head by Rangers in excess of 5m should recall that Carlos Cullar earned a 7.8m move to Aston Villa from Ibrox. The Spaniard's replacement, Bougherra has enjoyed a more fruitful period in the SPL.
Alan Hutton's 9m transfer from Rangers to Tottenham is another for sceptics of Bougherra's lucrative worth to consider.

Internationally, Bougherra and Algeria have a score to settle. In the year he was born, West Germany and Austria played out a famously dubious World Cup group match which prevented the Algerians from progressing in what was their debut in the finals. "Now is the time to bring closure for the stars of 1982," Bougherra says. Rooney and England have been warned.

First Published: Jun 18, 2010 11:07 IST