26 June 2023

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown dies aged 82

26 June 2023

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown has died at the age of 82, Aberdeen have confirmed.

Brown, an Aberdeen director, is the last man to lead Scotland to a World Cup finals, taking the team in France 25 years ago.

A statement from Aberdeen read: “Everyone at Aberdeen FC is heartbroken by the loss of our beloved former manager, director and club ambassador, Craig Brown.

“A dear friend to us all, Craig will be sorely missed and our love and condolences are with his family at this terribly sad time.”

The former schoolteacher also led Scotland to the European Championship in 1996 and was involved in a coaching capacity in three other major tournaments.

The Glasgow-born former Rangers and Dundee player managed Clyde before his international coaching career, which also included leading Scotland Under-16s to a World Cup final and the under-21s to a European semi-final.

Brown was manager of Scotland from 1993 until 2001. He later managed Preston, Motherwell and Aberdeen before becoming a director at Pittodrie.

Tributes immediately began pouring in for the popular character.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack said: “Since 2010 Craig performed the roles of manager, director, and ambassador at Aberdeen FC. Craig was a friend to all of us at the club, and a mentor and confidante to many.

“He was one of those rare individuals who was not only effective at what he did but universally loved by all who got to know him. A gentleman who loved his family, friends, and football.

“Personally, I’ll always be grateful for the support and encouragement he gave me as chairman, and I’ll miss his legendary stories that made all of us laugh.

“Sincere condolences to his family and friends from everyone at Aberdeen FC.”

Former Dons chairman Stewart Milne, who hired Brown as manager in 2010, said: “Craig was a very special individual. He always had time for people and if there was any way in which he could help them inevitably he was there with an abundance of support and guidance.

“During our time working together Craig became a close friend. He always had a story or two to tell, and I often became the butt of some of these stories, but he always meant it in a friendly way, I think.

“He will be sadly missed by many, and I feel grateful that he played such an important part in my life.”

The official Scotland national team Twitter account declared Brown a “true Scotland legend” and added: “Our thoughts are with Craig’s loved ones at this sad time.”

Former clubs including Clyde, Preston, Motherwell, Rangers, Dundee, Falkirk and Stranraer also expressed their condolences to Brown’s family, as did many other clubs throughout Scottish football.

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “So sorry to hear that Craig Brown has died. I last saw him in March at my uncle’s retirement from @ayrracecourse. He was in fine form – full of laughs and anecdotes from his life in football. He was an outstanding manager of @ScotlandNT and a truly lovely man.”

Her successor, Humza Yousaf, wrote: “A towering figure of the Scottish game, Craig Brown & the Scotland team he managed gave us many good memories over the years. You would be hard pressed to find a man who loved Scotland as passionately as he did. My thoughts with his family & friends at this sad time.”

Current Scotland manager Steve Clarke said: “Craig led the way in bringing sustained qualification to the men’s national team, first as assistant to Andy Roxburgh and then in his own right.

“He was a student of the game and I am proud to say that I followed in his footsteps by taking a Scotland team back to a major tournament.

“The thoughts of the players and my backroom staff go to Craig’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

The Scottish Football Association described Brown as a “one-off” in a lengthy tribute on its website, stating he was best remembered for leading Scotland to Euro 96 and the World Cup two years later.

“But to those who had the privilege of his company and his experience during a 60-year association with Scottish football, he was a pioneer and innovator, a teacher and a mentor to generations of players who graduated to coaching and management under his tutelage,” the piece added.

SFA president Mike Mulraney said: “Words cannot do justice to the impact Craig Brown has had on Scottish football and on behalf of the Scottish FA, and his friends and former colleagues at Hampden Park, I send our deepest condolences to his family.

“The greatest tribute that can be paid to his professional capabilities is the respect in which he was held by his peers, who also happened to be our all-time great coaches: among them Jock Stein, Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Jim McLean and Andy Roxburgh.

“Craig deserves his place in the pantheon of great coaches. He will be missed – but never forgotten – by those who had the pleasure of his company, or by the fans and players who shared in his successes as Scotland manager.”

Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to his long-standing friend and colleague.

“It was with great sadness to hear of the passing of Craig Brown, a thoroughly wonderful man, and my thoughts are with his family,” the former Aberdeen and Manchester United boss said in a statement released by the League Managers Association.

“Craig and I had been friends since Scotland Schools Team in 1957/58, with Craig as captain. When I was given the honour of managing Scotland at the World Cup finals in Mexico there was one man I had to take, for all his attributes and knowledge, that was Craig.

“He had a great career as a manager of several clubs but his service for his country stands out. In an industry that questions a man’s capabilities, Craig never wavered in that situation, he always kept his head and his composure. Well done Broon!”

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