Gordon Strachan

Last updated : 11 August 2006 By Kevin Markey
Gordon David Strachan OBE (born 9 February 1957, Edinburgh, Scotland) is a former professional football player and now manager.

He is currently manager of Celtic. During his largely successful playing career he played for Dundee (1974-1977), Aberdeen (1977-1984), Manchester United (1984-1989), Leeds United (1989-1995) and Coventry City (1995-1997).

He also won 50 international caps for Scotland and is a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame.

Strachan was an aggressive, skilful right-sided midfield player and is the father of Gavin Strachan, also a footballer.

Strachan started his career at Dundee but it wasn't until he was signed by Aberdeen that he came to prominence.

With the famous Aberdeen team of the 1980s, one of the few sides to break the traditional dominance of the Old Firm in Scottish football, he won two Scottish League titles, three Scottish Cups, the European Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.

In 1984, Manchester United had shown a great deal of interest in the skillful star - with Ron Atkinson spending £500,000 to take him to Old Trafford in August.

He was initially successful, contributing massively to their FA Cup victory over Everton in 1985, but gradually began to suffer a loss in form and eventually lost his place as a regular first team player.

Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson came to the rescue in 1989, when he paid £200,000 for Strachan's services. The transfer fee soon paid dividends as Strachan's strong form resulted in Leeds winning the Second Division title in 1990 and gaining promotion to the First Division after an eight-year exile.

The following season he helped Leeds finish fourth in the First Division and Strachan was voted PFA Player of the Year.

A year later, in 1992, he was instrumental in Leeds overtaking Manchester United to win the league title in the last ever season of the old Football League before the creation of the FA Premier League.

Strachan continued to be a competent and regular first-team player as Leeds enjoyed mixed fortunes during their first three seasons of the Premiership, although he was sometimes kept out of the side by back problems.

Strachan remained at Leeds United until March 1995, when he moved to Coventry City to work as player-coach under new manager Ron Atkinson.

Strachan was not a regular first-team player at Highfield Road, but he helped coach the club's players to a high enough standard to escape relegation from the Premiership in 1995-96.

When Ron Atkinson became Coventry City's Director of Football in November 1996, Gordon Strachan was promoted to the manager's seat.

He finally retired as a player at the end of the season after making his last appearance at the age of 40, a record in the English Premiership.

Strachan also helped the Sky Blues pull off perhaps the most unlikely relegation survival in Premiership history.

After losing their penultimate Premiership game, it looked as though their 30-year top flight tenancy had come to an end.

But thanks to a victory on the final day, and defeats for Middlesbrough (who had been deducted 3 points by the F.A) and Sunderland, they pulled off a miracle survival.

Strachan kept Coventry safe from relegation until 2001, when they finally went down after 34 years of top division football.

He was sacked shortly after the start of the 2001-02 Division One campaign. Gordon Strachan returned to management within weeks, taking the manager's job at Premiership strugglers Southampton - who had sacked manager Stuart Gray after a terrible start to their first season at the new St Mary's Stadium.

Most pundits had already written them off come Strachan's appointment in October 2001, but he turned round their Premiership fortunes and they finished 11th in the Premiership.

The Saints progressed further in 2002-03 when they finished eighth and reached the FA Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Arsenal. But since Arsenal had qualified for the UEFA Champions League, Southampton qualified for the 2003-04 UEFA Cup In March 2004, Gordon Strachan announced his resignation as Southampton manager.

He had earlier announced his intention not to renew his contract when it expired at the end of the 2003-04 season, but resigned even earlier than intended because he wanted to spend time with his family.

Later that year, when Berti Vogts stepped down as Scottish national coach, Strachan was widely tipped to take over.

But the job went to Walter Smith instead. He was even linked with the manager's job at Portsmouth, neighbours of his former club Southampton, but turned down the offer to take over.

Instead Strachan analysed football matches for the media, most notably alongside Adrian Chiles on the BBC's Match of the Day 2.

Renowned for his deadpan humour as much as his shrewd tactical awareness, quotes attributed to Strachan have become legendary among football supporters.

Strachan finally returned to management on 1 June 2005, when he succeeded Martin O'Neill as manager of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League (SPL). For 2005-06, his stated aim was to regain the SPL title from deadly rivals Rangers.

He had an embarrassing start to his campaign as Celtic manager, however, losing 5-0 to Slovakian champions Artmedia Bratislava on 27 July 2005 and 3 days later only managing to draw 4-4 with Motherwell in his first SPL match in charge of the Glasgow club.

The loss against Artmedia meant that Celtic suffered an early exit from European competition, despite winning the return match 4-0.

After this disastrous start, Celtic started to improve under Strachan, leading the SPL by as much as 20 points despite playing with a defence that came under regular criticism from the media and fans.

A low-point was the shock defeat in the third round of the Scottish Cup to First Division Clyde on 8 January 2006.

However, the following month his team made history when they beat Dunfermline Athletic 8-1, a record victory margin for the SPL. Strachan's first season was ultimately successful as he coached Celtic to victory in the Scottish League Cup and, on 5 April 2006 his side clinched the SPL title in record time and with six matches remaining.

Reflecting this achievement, Strachan was voted 'manager of the year' by the Scottish Football Writers' Association 8 days later.

Strachan has been appointed as the official FIFA/SOS Ambassador for Scotland, joining Wayne Rooney (Ambassador for England), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), and fifty others in fund raising for the official 2006 FIFA World Cup Charity.

Strachan was immortalised in song in the mid '90s when Irish Indie-Punk Rock band The Hitchers released their single "Strachan".

The song is written in semi narrative and depicts a tuned out Leeds supporter trying to watch a game while being pestered by his girlfriend. In the story, Strachan scores a hat-trick.

Strachan pointed out to the band's songwriter that he never scored a hat-trick in his professional career.

The team depicted in the song played together once, on March 19, 1994, and defeated Coventry City 3-0. The recording uses a sample from a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa in which Strachan scored.