Gordon Strachan was reflecting on his career highlights as he turns 60
Fortunately, the Scotland boss lived to tell the tale – and as he prepares to turn 60 on Thursday, Strachan was only happy to share many other stories from an amazing career.
After starring at the Mexico World Cup in 1986, Strachan was selected to play for a Rest of the World select against the Americas – with Maradona as a rival
“I got stopped by Maradona’s minders on my way to my hotel room,” he said. “These were guys with guns and they wanted to know what I was doing and I said, ‘I play’ and the boy just laughed at me!
“The story behind the Aberdeen strip is me cutting my hair before the game because I couldn’t see, so I just chopped it off with the scissors.
“And I gave my wife a piggy-back to bed at the end of the night in Gothenburg, after we’d enjoyed the celebrations of beating Real Madrid and watched Mark McGhee fall in the swimming pool!
Diego Maradon's minders stopped Strachan on his way to his hotel room
“For me it’s all about the people you played with and the laughs and the jokes.
“My mum has one or two pieces, like Scotland caps. Even the schoolboy cap I won at 15, she still has in the house. When you were a kid you never thought, ‘European Cups, manager of Scotland, leagues’.
“There was never any great plan. The great plan was scoring for Hibs, that was it. And I never achieved that so I am a failure in life!”
Strachan may be enduring a rough ride from Scotland fans just now with the World Cup dream fading fast.
But the Hall of Fame member remains as committed to his country as ever and insists he’s still got a long time ahead of him in coaching – just as he prolonged his playing career until he was 40 due to good habits.
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He added: “The biggest kick I get now is players phoning you for advice and thanking you for your help.
“I am not dismissing the medals and all that.
“But you get a far better kick from people saying thanks very much.”
Strachan reckons Kenny Dalglish, Willie Miller and Bryan Robson stand out as the best players he worked with his in his career. And while they would have shone in any era, he acknowledged football has changed – and not always for the better.
“Today’s footballer is like a formula 1 car – anything goes wrong with him he doesn’t play,” added Strachan.
“We had to be a four-wheel drive – play anywhere in any conditions against anybody.
“I still think the technique’s not bad in Scotland today, but there’s a whole lot more to it than technique.”
Strachan will try to address that next month in a friendly game against Canada before a World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
Fulham’s Tom Cairney, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser alongside West Brom’s Matt Phillips and Celtic’s Stuart Armstrong are in his plans for these games.
Strachan added: “It’s been a long time since the England game and it’s amazing how many people have changed. I call it leaving footprints with assists, goals and man of the match awards.
“We’ve got two games against Canada and Slovenia so we’ll have a big squad initially and then cut it down a bit after the first game.”