How Hearts missed chance to grab star Strachan at 13

IT'S a scene every diehard Jambo would love to have witnessed – even though they might be loathe to admit it.

City-born Gordon Strachan flying down the wing in the famous maroon in the 1980s could have added more magic to one of Hearts' finest sides.

And, if it wasn't for one of the club's former managers being too slow off the mark, it might have happened too.

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One of Strachan's former teachers today revealed how he tried to arrange for the then Hearts boss John Harvey to snap up the Hibs-daft prodigy – but the Tynecastle chief failed to turn up.

The future Scotland regular was the 13-year-old star of the Craigroyston High School under-16s when Bob Aitchison invited Harvey to watch him play against Musselburgh.

Mr Aitchison, a life-long Hearts fan, hoped to tip Harvey off to Strachan's huge potential.

But, the retired deputy headteacher from Blackhall said: "He couldn't make it. Gordon was brilliant that day and as soon as the game was over, my father went straight round to tell John what he had missed, but nothing came of it."

While Hearts fans may think fondly of what might have been, Strachan, now manager of English Championship side Middlesbrough, was not so taken with the idea.

Today the 53-year-old, who grew up in Muirhouse, was perhaps in a playful mood when he told the Evening News: "I'd rather have been poked in the eye with a stick!"

Soon after starring against Musselburgh, the young Strachan came to prominence, representing Scotland schoolboys against England at Ibrox and against West Germany in front of 40,000 fans at Saarbrucken.

He signed for Dundee, before going on to a glittering career with Aberdeen, Manchester United, Leeds and Scotland.

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Mr Aitchison remembers Strachan as a boy with good manners who was only ever in trouble for being late – because he was playing football. "He would say things like, 'But Miss, it was 5-5 and I had to score the winner'."

He admits persuading the Hibs fan to sign for Hearts may always have been a long shot.

"I think Gordon would have known within himself and wouldn't have gone – even with all my persuasion," he said. While the former games master – who counts Hibs striker Derek Riordan among his other former pupils – is not surprised by any of Strachan's achievements, he believes there may still be one significant chapter still to go in his career. Mr Aitchison added: "I thought he would have become Hibs manager."

So what does Strachan think about one day taking the reins at Easter Road? "I think I have done my stint in Scotland," he said. "After managing Celtic, anything else in Scotland would be a problem for me."