Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he would be open to the idea of trying to guide Scotland to a major finals some time in the future.
The Celtic boss is on the brink of securing a domestic treble in his first season in Scottish football and says that the prospect of switching club management for an international role is probably some time away but it is something he would consider before he eventually walks away from the game.
“One day! As you go through life as a coach or manager, you try to work at all levels and gain different experiences. So, one day in my life I’d like to do that. But I have too much energy and too much enthusiasm and too many other things to think about that now.
“But if I’m going to be coaching for another 20-odd years then at some point the possibility of going to a World Cup or European Championships would be nice.
“I’d be open to the experience in general. I’m Northern Irish, I’m very proud of that and pretty clear on that. But I’ve worked in England all my life virtually, I’ve worked in Wales, in Scotland. I’m pretty open to it because it’s an experience I want to have. The ability to work with a group of players and go to a major championships, that would be amazing.”
With a stated desire to see out another four years as Celtic manager and address club ambitions, it remains a hypothetical for now but it was something he had to consider a few years ago.
Back in 2012 everyone thought Harry Redknapp was going to be the new England manager – even him. Which is why he had already started piecing together a backroom staff before it was revealed that Roy Hodgson had been chosen instead.
“He wanted me to be joint England manager with him,” said Rodgers. “He was led to believe he was going to get the job and we spoke on it. He was inviting me to do it. It was leading into a European Championship and he said: ‘Look, what you’ve done with Swansea and how they are playing, can you come in and do that with these? Because look at the quality that is there. You can make them play like that and we have a chance of winning. So let’s come in, you do that and we work together on it’.
“It was a really incredible thing to ask another manager to do. It shows you his humility and shows you that he was prepared to do that. Of course, there was never an answer yes or no on it and that would’ve been hard for me. But it was something that was taken note of because he was always someone I highly respect.”
The news that Redknapp has returned to management at the age of 70 does not surprise Rodgers, who says it is all about energy and happiness, although by that stage he says he hopes to be “on a beach in Majorca”, or, he laughs, at the very least managing a national side somewhere warm. “Maybe Gibraltar?”
But while the role of national boss is still viewed as football’s semi-retirement, Rodgers says that the right job could render it the right time sooner than that.
“It’s just timing, isn’t it? Look at the Germans. [Jurgen] Klinsmann, [Joachim] Loew, they are there building a legacy because they needed to be better. You give it a decade in terms of the youths and that’s brought them success and. Loew has been there to see that through as that’s the fit for him. But [Chelsea boss Antonio] Conte did it for a couple of years with Italy, then came out, [West Ham United manager Slaven] Bilic done it with Croatia and he was young. Mark Hughes was at Wales when he was 35 and Michael O’Neill is very good and may go back into club football.
“But as you get older you naturally slow down a bit and it allows you to put all your energy into a block of time, then you come away and analyse more. Think of the career line in coaching. You start virtually as a teacher of the game, teaching young people. You move into coaching then into management.
“And as you get older you then become a consultant/adviser. So when you reach international level you can also use the great experience you have.
‘Louis van Gaal did it a couple of times with Holland, Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat. They are top-class operators so they do it once, come away from it and why shouldn’t you do it again? It’s likewise with me and England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic. Why wouldn’t it happen?”