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16 October 2014

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Jock Stein dies 1985

Jock Stein with Sir Alex Ferguson


When Stein departed the club in 1978, the circumstances were less than amicable. Celtic refused to reward his services at the club with a role on the board of directors, instead, they offered him offering him the opportunity to manage Cetic's pools outlet, but Stein gracefully declined and moved on to succeed Jimmy Armfield as manager at Leeds United FC, but remained in the job for only 45 days, before resigning to take up the position as head coach of the Scotland national team. Stein had previously taken on the role as part-time national manager of Scotland in 1965, whilst still in charge at Celtic, but under his stern leadership from 1978-1985, Scotland reached the World Cup Finals in Spain '82, suffering elimination only on goal difference to the Soviet Union.

On 10 September 1985 in Cardiff, Jock Stein's life ended as it he had lived it – through football. His final decision as head coach of Scotland was to substitute Aberdeen's Gordon Strachan for Davie Cooper in that ill-fated World Cup qualifying encounter with Wales. Cooper took to the field and netted the penalty-kick that sent Scotland to the World Cup in Mexico '86, an achievement which Stein would never realise. His individual record as Scotland head coach is second only to Craig Brown's; 68 games played, 30 won, 13 drawn and 25 lost.

However, the football vision of a Lanarkshire miner can never be truly explained by statistical analysis alone. Stein was more than a collection of phenomenal results. By most accounts he was also a gregarious character; chatty, friendly and intelligent – with presence, unique man-management skills and a fiery temper that could silence a dressing-room full of confident young stars in an instant.

Exactly how he managed to transform a team of underachievers into a feared force in European football at the first attempt defies explanation, but Scottish football stepped into the light when Stein left his mark on the game, and many of today's top managers owe something of their achievements to Stein's tactical nous.

In a conversation with the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly shortly after Celtic's historic win in Lisbon, Shankly told Stein:

"Jock, you're immortal now."

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