Gordon Strachan’s career began at Dundee in the mid-1970s and after successful spells with Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds United, he was still playing English top-flight football for Coventry at 40.
He put his longevity down to a diet of porridge, bananas and seaweed tablets, and relied on fitness, acupressure and afternoon naps to extend his playing days.
Here Strachan has chosen his “basically unbeatable” XI of former club team-mates.
Goalkeeper: Jim Leighton
Thanks to Sportscene, I’ve been watching some Aberdeen and Scotland games recently. When you look back you think: “What a good goalkeeper Jim was, making big saves at the right times.” He was making good hits by good players look simple, when they were bouncing in front of him. The only time he embarrassed himself was when he started running.
Centre-backs: Paul McGrath, Willie Miller & Alex McLeish
Strachan describes his former Manchester United team-mate Paul McGrath, plus Brian Robson and Norman Whiteside, as “first-class people”
I couldn’t leave Paul McGrath out. He is probably one of the best players I ever played with, considering he was injured and all the problems he had throughout his career. He was a truly magnificent football player. On top of that he was a great lad, always good fun, never a bad word about anybody.
With those three, the rest of the team could just go out and attack. Any one of them coming forward with the ball to make it eight attacking players with two left behind, I’d have no problems whatsoever. Miller and McLeish could have played for any team in Britain at the time. They just enjoyed defending.
Six of Strachan’s greatest XI are in this Aberdeen squad photo from 1983-84
Centre-midfielders: Norman Whiteside, Gary McAllister, Bryan Robson
Bryan Robson is the best player I ever played with. He had everything. You could put him in any position. He could score goals and defend. Like Willie Miller, he was a fantastic captain who would put the players first. The only negative was if he asked you if you wanted to go for a night out – it would be three days on the go never leaving a pub!
Gary McAllister and I played together at Leeds. He was a wonderful footballer but Leeds made him into a player. A footballer can play sometimes in the conditions that suit them. Gary turned into a player – he could play anywhere, any time, any game, any condition.
Remi Moses, Arnold Muhren, David Batty, Neil Simpson, Neale Cooper, it’s unbelievable the players I played with. Dougie Bell was a fantastic player. But Norman Whiteside could score wonder goals, tackle, header. He wasn’t the fastest but he was a powerful runner.
Strachan appointed Mark McGhee and Gary McAllister to his coaching team when he was Scotland manager
Wide midfielders: Stuart Kennedy & Peter Weir
If it wasn’t for Stuart, I wouldn’t be where I was later in my career. Stuart gave us the width and pace and I did the intricate things. We worked well together. Stuart would be at right wing-back.
Strikers: Mark Hughes & Mark McGhee
Mark Hughes used to drive you crazy when he was a kid because you’d hit the ball up to him and he’d keep touching it. If you went to support him, you’d run by him because he’d have so many touches. But then he got older and got better and better and he could do anything.
Mark McGhee did something every game that was outrageous. He played in every game, he took knocks, he made runs, he held the ball up, he could jump, he was never unfit. Sir Alex [Ferguson, former Aberdeen and Manchester United manager] described him as one of the most important people in that [Aberdeen] team. He and Steve Archibald were absolutely magnificent.