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Charlie Christie: Craig Brown is one of Scotland’s true football giants

By Charlie Christie

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I was very saddened to learn of the death of Scottish football legend Craig Brown early this week.

Craig Brown. Scottish FA
Craig Brown. Scottish FA

An absolute gentleman who knew the game inside out I had the pleasure of meeting with him on several occasions – the last time being in the Pittodrie boardroom a few years back.

He was hugely complimentary about son Ryan who was at Aberdeen on loan at the time and spent some time giving me advice on what he felt Ryan could do to improve his game – valuable advice indeed from one of our country’s true football giants.

Craig started his coaching career with the Scottish youth teams progressing through to the under-21 side prior to being appointed Scotland manager in October 1993.

He led the national side to the 1996 Euros in England and to the 1998 World Cup in France and, quite incredibly, in both qualifying campaigns for those tournaments, we only lost three goals in 10 group games. Craig had the mindset that if we ensured that we didn’t concede goals we would give ourselves the best chance to get results and his 45 per cent win ratio tells me he was not wrong.

An unassuming man he always made time for people, and I can remember him appearing at Largs whilst I was undertaking one of my coaching badges. He was the current Scotland manager but still took time to speak with the course participants offering snippets of advice which was incredibly well received and further proof of his desire to see football progress in Scotland – he will be sorely missed by many.

Craig would have been delighted with the start our current national manager Steve Clarke has made in the 2024 European Championship Qualifiers as we proudly sit top of Group A with 12 points from four matches. It’s the first time in our history that we have won four consecutive qualifying matches.

Craig would also have been delighted at the loss of only one goal in those four games and there are undoubtedly similarities with Steve’s current style and that of Craig’s team in the 90’s where a solid defensive shape allied to a terrific work ethic set the foundation for many good results.

Next up is a trip to Cyprus in September where I reckon three points would all but guarantee the Tartan Army will be in Germany.

I can’t see any other team bar Spain managing to achieve 16 points and, with away fixtures to follow in Spain and Georgia, it would relieve much of the pressure if we can get that fifth consecutive win.

We do not want to be going into our final group match in November requiring to beat Norway at Hampden – we could all do without the significant stress that would entail.

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