International

McLeish confirmed as new Scotland manager

2018-02-16 18:36
Soccer ball (Getty Images)

London - Alex McLeish has been appointed as the new manager of Scotland, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said on Friday.

McLeish's return for a second spell as Scotland boss ends the SFA's four-month search for a successor to Gordon Strachan, his former Aberdeen and Scotland team-mate.

The 59-year-old McLeish won seven of 10 games in charge during his previous spell in 2007, including a famous 1-0 win away to France, as Scotland narrowly missed out to Italy for Euro 2008 qualification.

Scotland's wait to reach a major tournament has stretched to 20 years in the decade since.

McLeish's first games in charge will come in friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary next month, with his return to the hot seat widely forecast by British media reports on Thursday.

Costa Rica will visit Hampden Park on March 23 and four days later Scotland will travel to Hungary.

However, McLeish will have to wait until September for the first competitive game of his second spell in charge of Scotland, when qualifying for Euro 2020 begins with the inaugural Nations League at home to Albania.

"It is a tremendous honour to be named Scotland national team head coach," said McLeish in an SFA statement.

"There is much to be positive about in Scottish football, with players playing at the highest level and promising talent breaking through."

He added: "With Hampden Park as one of the host venues for Euro 2020 we have an amazing opportunity to showcase our talents to the world from our own back yard.

"I am relishing the challenge of leading us to a major tournament and I cannot wait to get started."

McLeish feared he might not get a second chance with Scotland after the SFA made it clear Michael O'Neill was their first-choice target.

But a failure to bring the Northern Ireland manager on board - which contributed to Stewart Regan losing his job as SFA chief executive - gave McLeish renewed hope.

"I always see it as a bit of fate," McLeish told reporters. "I see that as it was meant to happen and I have got to make the most of that.

"Michael turned it down and you think: 'Oh wait a minute, it is not over yet'."

SFA president Alan McRae added: "Alex McLeish is a true Scotland legend and a natural leader who has enjoyed success at club level in Scotland and England, and at international level.

"It is a rarity to be in a position to appoint someone who has experience of successfully managing their country and we are delighted to reach an agreement with Alex."

McLeish, capped 77 times by Scotland, had a distinguished career as a defender for Aberdeen under managerial great Alex Ferguson, winning three Scottish league titles and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983.

His most successful period as a manger came in nearly five years at Rangers where he won seven trophies between 2001 and 2006 before taking charge of Scotland for the first time.

He also led Birmingham City to English League Cup victory in 2010/2011 before controversially quitting to join local rivals Aston Villa following the former's relegation from the Premier League.

Short unsuccessful spells at Villa, Nottingham Forest, Genk in Belgium and Egyptian side Zamalek followed before a return to his homeland.

Read more on:    scotland  |  alex mcleish  |  soccer
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