Belfast Telegraph

McLeish thrilled to get second chance

By Ronnie Esplin

Alex McLeish believes fate played its part in him becoming Scotland manager for the second time after first-choice candidate Michael O'Neill rejected an approach from the Scottish Football Association.

The 59-year-old, who had a 10-game stint in charge of the national team in 2007, met the media at Hampden Park yesterday after his appointment was confirmed.

The SFA had originally approached O'Neill to become Gordon Strachan's successor but he decided to stay as boss of Northern Ireland.

"I see it as a bit of fate," said the former Scotland defender, who declared himself "thrilled" to be back in the Hampden hot seat with a contract until 2020.

"I see that as it was meant to happen and I have got to make the most of that," he added.

"Michael turned it down and you think, 'oh wait a minute, it is not over yet'.

"When Michael went in for talks you think he is going to take it because it is, after all, a fantastic job and we are a fantastic nation and Michael lives in this country.

"But he turned it down for his own reasons and that gave me a chance to get in the door."

McLeish's appointment is not overwhelmingly popular among Scottish football fans with some of the Tartan Army still unhappy that his first stint ended with him walking away to take over at Birmingham.

However, the former Rangers boss, who will now prepare for friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary next month, believes he can win them over.

"I understand the divide of some of the supporters but I believe I am the right man to come back," he said.

McLeish revealed he had the backing of his former Aberdeen boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He's obviously a very influential man. He felt it was a great chance for me," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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