Thursday, August 11, 2011

Focus On : The Jock Stein Years

  One of the greatest ever Scottish managers, the blunt but visionary Stein managed Dunfermline and Hibernian in the early 1960s, moving to Celtic in 1965. He turned Celtic into one of the finest European teams, winning the European Cup in 1967, the first British club to do so, and losing Finalists in 1970. When he left the club in 1978, he had led them to ten Scottish league championship, nine Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups. After a brief spell at Leeds United, he took over as Scottish manager and oversaw 6  international games. He died from a heart attack immediatly after the Scotland v Wales World Cup qualifier, a game which assured Scotland a place in the 1986 World Cup finals.

Stein's rise from obscurity is e a fairy story. As a player, he is on the point of quitting the me and returning to the pits ter an undistinguished career with Albion Rovers and non-League football when Celtic signed him as a reserve centre-half. Because of injury to the regular stopper, he found himself straight in the first team — and he never looked back. In 1954, he captained Celtic to their first League and Cup double for 40 years. The next year, an ankle injury ended his playing career, and he coached Celtic for five years before becoming manager of Dunfermline, saving them from relegation and then taking them to their 1961 FA Cup victory over Celtic. After a brief spell with Hibs. he returned to Celtic and glory. Their "grand slam" in 1967 was unique, and he achieved it with a side Iliat cost virtually nothing. Stein retired in 1977, but was persuaded to make a comeback with Leeds a year later. Then, after less than seven weeks, and before signing a contract, the call came from Scotland. Jock Stein was a simple, straightforward man, completely dedicated to football. He possessed a vast knowledge of the game, and had an exceptional ability to bring out the best in his players. His death was a terrible loss to the Scots, but he will also be missed by all who love the game.

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