11 Scottish football club legends who returned as manager

Eddie Turnbull was a Hibs legend as both player and manager. Picture: Alan Ledgerwood
Eddie Turnbull was a Hibs legend as both player and manager. Picture: Alan Ledgerwood
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Amid debate of whether Neil Lennon would return to manage Celtic, we select a mix of Scottish football legends during their playing days who returned as manager.

Some of these guys improved on the legacy; others didn’t.


Willie Waddell (Rangers)

As a player, Waddell was a one man club. Had it not been for World War II then surely he would have amassed more than five League titles, four Scottish Cups and 17 caps for Scotland, but that’s still a mighty impressive haul. As a manager he didn’t stay around very long, deciding to step down after only three years, but in that time he secured the club’s only European trophy when Rangers defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Tommy Walker (Hearts)

Walker is the fourth highest goalscorer in club history and, by far and away, the most successful manager. Baring a two-year spell in the late 1940s, Walker was at Hearts in some capacity for 33 years. As an inside-forward he netted 226 goals at Hearts and nine with Scotland, including two at Wembley against the Auld Enemy. During his time as manager at Tynecastle the club won two league titles, four League Cups and one Scottish Cup.

Billy McNeill (Celtic)

Caesar, as he was affectionately known, is renowned as the greatest captain in Celtic history. He marshalled the defence for 18 years, making nearly 800 appearances and lifting the European Cup in 1967. He would have two stints as manager, both of which had their successes, though he is most fondly remembered in this role for returning prior to the club’s centenary season and promptly winning the league and cup double.

Eddie Turnbull (Hibs)

Turnbull’s name is synonymous with two of the more revered teams in Hibernian history. During his playing days he was a member of the Famous Five forward line, which brought three league titles to Easter Road during the 1950s. After proving himself to be a capable manager at Aberdeen he moved back to Leith in 1971. While he didn’t enjoy the same sort of success as his playing days (winning one League Cup) he did mould the team into Turnbull’s Tornadoes, a side renowned for playing excellent and entertaining football.

Davie McParland (Partick Thistle)

The Jags legend is known for being the mastermind behind Thistle’s 4-1 League Cup final win over Celtic, arguably the greatest moment in the club’s history. However, he was also a stalwart of the team for years, making over 400 league appearances during his playing days. He left in acrimonious circumstances in 1974, just three years after the League Cup triumph having fallen out with the board.


Craig Brewster (Dundee United)

The striker was only at Tannadice for three years as player, and considering the number of truly great players United had in the 70s and 80s, it’s perhaps to stretch to call him a legend. However, he did score the goal that finally, after six defeats in the final, won the Scottish Cup for Dundee United, so he takes his place in his list. His time as manager was truly dreadful. With only three wins from 30 games he remains, statistically, the worst manager in the club’s history.

Ally McCoist (Rangers)

Time heals all wounds and there will come a point in the near future where McCoist returns to Ibrox and is deservedly greeted like a hero. He’s the club’s greatest ever goalscorer and winner of 19 trophies, including nine league titles. However, in the meantime, his stint as manager is still a little raw for most. He may have won two lower league titles, but that was the least expected of him, and the style of football rankled with supporters.

Franck Sauzee (Hibs)

A terrific player, Sauzee may not have had the longest career at Easter Road, but he should enough true class in that time to forever make him a legend in the eyes of the fans. The less said about his managerial spell the better. He won only one game, a Scottish Cup replay against lower league opposition, before being ousted from the job after 69 days.

Mark McGhee (Aberdeen)

McGhee played a vital role as a member of the Aberdeen side that marched all the way to the Cup Winners’ Cup final and defeated Real Madrid. He also won five domestic trophies (two league titles and three Scottish Cups) during his time at Pittodrie. Unfortunately, his stint as manager will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Having said upon taking the job that he’d rather have managed Celtic, his departure from Aberdeen was all but sealed when they lost 9-0 to that very club. Only Alex Miller owns a lower winning percentage as Dons boss.

Gordon Dalziel (Raith Rovers)

Dalziel was a prolific goalscorer during his Stark’s Park playing days, including netting that famous equaliser against Celtic in the 1994 League Cup final, as Raith Rovers would go on to secure the first major honour in their history. He took over after the infamous disaster that was Claude Anelka’s time in charge. Although, arguably, Dalziel’s team was enough worse as they struggled at the foot of the third tier. He was out after less than two years with John McGlynn taking over and leading them to promotion.

Paul Hegarty (Dundee United)

A true legend in his playing days, Hegarty helped United win their first ever league title. The defender played in 493 games and yet won only four as a manager. His time in charge came during a period when United could do no right in terms of hiring a manager. Between Jim McLean retiring in 1993 and Craig Levein being hired 13 years later, the club went through nine gaffers.

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