I tend to stay away from doing pieces on players that gained a lot of caps. It’s so much easier to tell someone’s story when there’s only 15 caps or even 30 but Alex gained 77 and is third in the all-time list behind Kenny Dalglish and Jim Leighton. So here goes. Jock Stein gave Alex his first cap against Portugal in March, 1980 in a fine 4-1 win at Hampden in a Euro Qualifier. Of course being a Euro qualifier despite this great result we were already well out of contention, finishing fourth behind Belgium, Austria and Portugal. Thank goodness we still had Norway to prop us up. Also making his debut that night and for his only cap as an Aberdeen player was Stevie Archibald who despite his pedigree i.e. Spurs, Barcelona and Clyde never quite sparked in a Scotland shirt, only scoring 4 goals in 27 appearances. Although Alex would start in the first few games of the campaign to reach Spain ’82, by season ’81-’82 he seems to have fallen out the picture with Jock Stein preferring to play in the main Alan Hansen alongside Willie Miller, which as we all know proved to be a mistake come the World Cup. Alex did get game time during the World Cup, making a 30 minute appearance as a sub in the game against Brazil.
Throughout the qualifiers for Mexico ’86, Jock Stein had gone with the Miller / McLeish partnership as would his club manager Alex Ferguson for the play-offs against Australia, however Alex would play in the in opening game against Denmark and would then miss the final two games. I have to be honest and haven’t been able to confirm if he was injured or not;or if his club boss simply left him out in favour of David Narey.
Alex would finally get to play a big part in the World Cup Finals for Italia ’90 where he played in all three games against Costa Rica, Sweden and Brazil. After, the World Cup Alex would play in the first few games of a finally successful Euro campaign but by 1991 was being left out for players such as Craig Levein, Richard Gough and Dave McPherson (that can’t be right, can it?). A final swansong in February 1993 in a World Cup Qualifier against Malta would be Alex’s last appearance in a Scotland shirt. He would of course go on to manage Scotland rather successfully in some ways, in 2007 but like many a fan it rankles with me that he jumped ship to an average English club side in Birmingham City at the first opportunity.
As to his Focus on, it’s a bit boring but the reason for that becomes clear at the end when asked “ If not a player, what job would you do?”, “Hopefully, an accountant” came his reply and sadly this was actually true as Alex was studying accountancy at the time (Summer ’80).
Other than that his favourite food is . . . Steak! Sorry folks there’s no Scandinavian beauty to post here as he goes for Meryl Streep as his actress. His favourite player is Ruud Krol of Holland and childhood hero was Gerd Muller of West Germany. Favourite singers are Joni Mitchell and Phil Collins of Genesis.
And that was all she wrote as they say.
First posted on Facebook July 22nd, 2015