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Alex McLeish: From his own album and in his own words

26 Feb 2011 10:59:15

Alex McLeish: From his own album and in his own words

From his appearance on Top of the Pops and winning Scottish titles with Sir Alex Ferguson to gracing the Wembley turf, here's an intimate insight into Birmingham boss Alex McLeish's career in football... TOP OF THE POPS 1982 Before Scotland went to the World Cup in Spain we were down in the Top of the Pops studios, brushing shoulders with the stars, with our song 'We have a dream,' with B.A. Robertson. We reached number five. Not bad, eh? There was a pretty good cast list. Funboy Three were there with Bananarama singing 'It ain't what you do,' Jim Diamond was on with 'I should have known better,' Depeche Mode with 'See You,' and Patrice Rushen with 'Forget me nots.' I think that Siobhan Fahey, who latermarried Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, is in this picture, wearingglasses. England were there too. Nightmare? McLeish (back row, second left) joins the Scotland squad performing their World Cup song 'We Have A Dream' So were Spurs because Ossie was on his way to Wembley with Chas 'n' Dave. I think that Steve Archibald sang twice on the same show - not a bad claim to fame, is it? We obviously weren't supposed to sing but we did anyway. I don't think they recorded our voices for posterity, and heaven only knows what we sounded like. To cap a really incredible day, I met the bloke who was at No 1 - Paul McCartney no less - in the toilets! He was singing 'Ebony and Ivory,' although he was on his own as Stevie Wonder was elsewhere. I'm sure he didn't have a clue who I was. I explained that I was with the footballers and that was about as much as I managed before he walked out, probably bemused that we had taken over Top of the Pops. ABERDEEN V BAYERN MUNICH Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final, 1982 We had drawn the first game 0-0 in the Olympic Stadium and I distinctly remember Sir Alex Ferguson saying on the way home: 'All we've got to do is win the home leg. Win and we are through. It doesn't matter about the away goals. They score one, we have to score two.' It sounded so simple didn't it? We were down twice in the game and equalised on both occasions. The funny thing is that when I scored this header - that's Klaus Augenthaler who I have beaten to the ball - Pittodrie was going mad as you would expect, but it seemed the camaraman got caught up in the occasion too. European glory: McLeish (right, behind diving defender) scores Aberdeen's second goal against Bayern We had to return to our positions for the restart and the camera was zooming in on me, having scored the equalising goal. The only problem was that we had worked the ball forwards quickly and John Hewitt scored. The cameras were still on me. John nutmegged the Bayern Munich keeper in the quarter-final and I'm not sure whether he's ever seen the pictures. Television wasn't as slick as it is these days and one of the best moments of John's career was missed. SCOTTISH FOOTBALL WRITERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR, 1990 Enlarge Scotland's No 1! McLeish picks up the Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year Award Football is firstly a team game but I'm glad that there is scope for personal recognition. And I'm not just saying that because I won something! I was probably at my peak as a player when this picture was taken. In terms of experience and athleticism and my all-round game, it almost seemed effortless for me that season. I owed a lot to those around me. Andparticularly Willie Miller, my central defensive partner. I played withhim for the best part of a decade for club and country and I couldcount - easily - on the fingers of one hand how many poor games he had. He staggered me. It's what I look for in my centre-halves now. They have to be among the most consistent performers in your side or the whole team suffers. Willie was a legend in Aberdeen. Because he had a big moustache and all the T-shirt sellers superimposed his face onto that of revolutionary figure Che Guevara. They didn't do that with me, did they? Don't know why! ENGLAND v SCOTLANDWembley, 1981 This was my first game at centre-half against England for Scotland. I had played the season before, but in midfield, which wasn't my first-choice position. This is me and Joe Jordan with Peter Withe and Dave Watson. I played against Peter and Trevor Francis, my pal and, of course, one of my predecessors at St Andrew's. Steve Archibald was pulled down ten minutes from time and John Robertson stuck away the penalty. It was my first game at Wembley and it is true what they say: the pitch is very draining. What I remember most is that the pitch was hot, believe it or not. When I came off, the soles of my feet were burning and full of blisters. I took my boots off and walked into the changingroom in my bare feet. Enlarge Old enemy: McLeish left the Wembley pitch with is feet covered in blisters following showdown with England I had been to Wembley as a punter. In 1979 I hired a car with Gordon Strachan and his brother-in-law, another Aberdeen boy, John McMaster, and we came down with the rest of the Tartan Army. We stayed in Dunstable. John's uncle was treasurer of the Celtic supporters' club there, so we had somewhere to stay. We had the name of John's relative - I think it was Sonny - and an address. We pitched up at this house and this bloke came to the door, looked us up and down and said: 'Aye, what do yous lot want?' John turned to me and said: 'Is that him?' I replied, 'How the hell should I know, he's your uncle!' Of course, as soon as he realised who we were, we were all right, but honestly, that goes down as one of the best questions ever. ALEX WITH ALEX... Look at his face. He's saying: 'Get your arm off my shoulder!' Joking apart, it is a significant picture. We won the league in 1980 and this was the 1982 Scottish Cup final against Rangers. A Rangers player said to us when we clinched the title: 'You might have won the league but you never beat us when it matters.' Hands off! Fergie looks miffed as McLeish handles the Aberdeen boss But we won 4-1 after extra time and we overcame a huge psychological hurdle. It was the beginning of the end of the Old Firm's domination for a few years. I hit the equaliser, a curling shot from the edge of the box - frightening thought, isn't it? - and Gordon Strachan's goal killed them. Every time we played Rangers or Celtic after that, we thought we were going to win. 1985 TITLE-WINNING ABERDEEN I think this was towards the end of Sir Alex Ferguson's time at Aberdeen and it was the last of his three Scottish titles. I've said that he used to go mad at us for conceding a corner. That's not strictly true, but he would certainly have a go at you if he felt he could squeeze 0.05 per cent of improvement from you. On top of the world: McLeish (bottom row, second right) with the Aberdeen players celebrate title success with boss Ferguson Back in the day, you took that rollicking. Within reason you could come back at him, but you'd better have a good argument - or else go out there and quickly put right whatever it was that you were supposed to have done wrong. When I look back, it's incredible to think what that club achieved. Aberdeen broke the domination of the Old Firm and became the third Scottish club to win a European trophy - the only one outside Glasgow to this day. It spoke volumes for that group of players. And, of course, for the man who had put it all together. TREBLE-WINNING RANGERS, 2003 I went to Ibrox in December 2001 and in my first full season - 2002-03 - we won three domestic competitions. Celtic had gone to Seville for the UEFA Cup final with Jose Mourinho's Porto and the title race went to the last game. We were at home to Dunfermline and Celtic were away to Kilmarnock. It was down to goal difference. We won our match 6-1 and Celtic won 4-0 and we clinched it by the odd goal. Chris Sutton said on TV afterwards that Dunfermline had laid down, but his comments didn't take away from the achievement. Treble maker: As boss of Rangers, McLeish won everything the domestic game had to offer The pundits said Martin O'Neill's team was the strongest since Jock Stein's era - he had put together a really strong, physical side - so it spoke volumes for what we had at Rangers. We stood toe-to-toe with them. Former boss Dick Advocaat had tried to buy a team to win the Champions League for Rangers. Players such as Ronald de Boer and Artur Numan had been brought in which put paid to Walter Smith's first era, which had been peppered with Italian players. David Murray had offered me the job. I couldn't turn it down. I was only sorry that I couldn't do it for my dad. He lived to see me play for Scotland but not manage Rangers. I would have loved to have done that for him.  The Midlander: Birmingham fans must forget about the past and enjoy their big day out at WembleyRobin van Persie to lead Arsenal out in Carling Cup final as Arsene Wenger refuses to bow to Cesc Fabregas' plea to playRoad to Wembley: Birmingham's path to the brink of gloryAll the latest Birmingham news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Martin O'Neill, Alex Ferguson, Paul McCartney, Walter Smith, Stevie Wonder, Jose Mourinho, David Murray, Gordon Strachan, John Robertson, Trevor Francis, Alex McLeish Places: Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Scotland, Spain, United Kingdom, Olympic Stadium


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