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A Tribute To Craig Brown: The Gentleman Of Scottish Football

Craig Brown Scotland Interview

Scotish coach Craig Brown salutes Scotish supporters 10 June at the Stade de France in Saint Denis before the opening ceremony of the 1998 Soccer World Cup between Brazil and Scotland. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Toshifumi KITMURA (Photo by Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP) (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

By Callum McFadden.

I am devastated at the news of Craig Brown’s passing. 

Craig was a colossus of Scottish football and managed Scotland to the World Cup in 1998 which remains the last World Cup we have qualified for. 

He played for one of the greatest Dundee teams in history in the 1960s. At Dens Park, he won the Scottish league title in 1962 and reached the semi-final of the European Cup before turning his hand to teaching and football management.

He started his career in management at Scottish lower-league side Clyde FC while being a primary school headteacher.

I once asked him what was the most challenging of those roles to which he replied: “Managing the team was similar to managing the school in many ways except the school was probably more challenging but both were rewarding.”

Rewarding was what time in Craig’s company was. 

When I first started out interviewing former players and managers, I was speaking to people at a local level and, rather ambitiously, I reached out to Craig asking to speak to him. 

Bearing in mind Craig was a man who had managed at club level in Scotland and engaged and led his country while alongside people like Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Kenny Dalglish and many others, I fully expected him to politely decline. 

Even more so, given that I had about five interviews behind me and he would not have had the slightest clue who I was.

However, that was not to be the case. I received a reply from Craig saying that he would be more than happy to speak to me and that we should arrange a call. 

This was during the first COVID-19 lockdown, so our chat was to be over Zoom. I fully expected a short fifteen-minute chat which I would have been over the moon with before saying goodbye and thanks to Craig. 

That was not his style. We were on the call for over three hours and we spoke even after when we had stopped recording, with Craig asking about my background and my family while telling me to stay in touch.

He gave me his phone number and we stayed in touch with him helping me with contacts for future interviews and general chats about football and life.

He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. Humorous and talkative yet humble and grounded.

He showed as much interest in those he met as they did in him. 

When I started my own football website in 2020, he would read my articles and told me he would help me in any way that he could. 

I joked that I would love to have him write a column given his experiences in the game and he said yes straight away. 

He told me that he would send me his columns on a Sunday evening and that I could publish them whenever I wanted to during the week. 

Again, everything done with kindness, empathy and enthusiasm. 

I was fortunate to meet him at Celtic versus Aberdeen last year and it was great to spend time speaking to him and thanking him for his help, particularly when I was starting out with no track record.

“We all have to start somewhere but remember me when you are moving up in the world,” was the response with a smile. 

That was Craig Brown in a nutshell. He always made you feel on top of the world with his charm and wit. 

With those qualities, it is no surprise to me that he achieved so much in the game for club and country. 

He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and all who follow Scottish football. 

My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family at this time. May he rest in peace.

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