STUART McCall has spoke of his pride at being appointed assistant national coach and described Gordon Strachan’s offer to become the new Scotland No 3 as coming “like a bolt from the blue”.
The Motherwell manager learned of Strachan’s interest when he got a phone call last Wednesday from Jim Fleeting, the director of football development at the Scottish Football Association.
Apart from coming up against Strachan in the memorable “Battle of Britain” Champions League tie between Rangers and Leeds United in 1992, the two red-headed midfielders have had little contact over the years.
McCall’s 40-cap Scotland career began just as Strachan’s was coming to an end.
McCall discussed his new role with the Scotland manager on Monday at Firhill, where Motherwell under-19s were playing Celtic. McCall said: “I’ve not really met Gordon before. It came
totally out the blue – I was stunned, but so proud. I then spoke to Motherwell and they were just as pleased for me and it snowballed from there.
“I saw lots of names linked and I thought they might just be speaking to a few people,” he added. “It wasn’t definite until I had a meeting with Gordon on Monday. It’s a great honour to be involved with the national set-up – especially without me really knowing Gordon. It makes me proud.”
McCall kept the news secret from even selected members of his own family. “I was excited about it and I only told my boy who is 17,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell my younger daughter because she goes on that Twitter stuff and I couldn’t trust her not to tell everyone.
“So I have been carrying this for seven or eight days and it was only when I got the call saying: ‘Gordon wants to speak to you’ that I rang Motherwell. I still thought Gordon would be canvassing a few people. Maybe he was, I don’t know. But it has been difficult to keep a secret.”
At 48, McCall is the “younger” coach promised by 55-year-old Strachan, although not many expected the No 3 post would go to someone with such considerable managerial experience.
After a spell at Bradford City, McCall took over at Motherwell in 2010 and led them to the Scottish Cup final just five months later. Last season saw the Fir Park club qualify for the Champions League qualifying rounds.
McCall’s international career was also impressive and he memorably scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Sweden in Genoa during Italia 90. He played in every minute of every Scotland game at Italia 90 and the Euro 92 and Euro 96 finals.
“In many ways, Stuart typified the classic Scottish international player. He was passionate and combative, but he was also hugely influential and inspirational,” said Strachan. “He has done a tremendous job at Motherwell and his knowledge of the game and especially
his knowledge of the Scottish scene, will be invaluable.”
McCall is a straight replacement for Kenny Black, his own assistant at Fir Park. “I’ve said before I was envious when Kenny came away with Scotland,” said McCall. “It gave me two days with the Motherwell players, but now these roles are reversed. He’s delighted for me.”
Leeann Dempster, the Motherwell chief executive, offered McCall her full support. “We are sure his experiences of international football will complement his excellent contribution to Motherwell’s ongoing ambitions,” she said.