Mind Games

Gordon Strachan: 'Martin O'Neill is a happy eccentric - a little bit like Ronnie Corbett'

Ahead of Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier, the Scotland manager also responded to claims made by Roy Keane in his latest book.

SCOTLAND MANAGER GORDON STRACHAN has shone a light on his relationship with his Republic of Ireland counterpart Martin O’Neill saying the pair get on ‘terrifically well’ but added his friend is ‘a happy eccentric – a little bit like Ronnie Corbett’.

Speaking during a Sky Sports documentary, Making Scotland Believe – detailing his time as international manager so far, Strachan admitted he and O’Neill meet regularly, particularly when they’re both doing television work.

I get on great with Martin – terrifically well. He’s a happy eccentric – a bit like Ronnie Corbett. We sit and talk about films and music but you don’t talk with Martin – you just listen. He radiates in a room – I like that. He’s good fun.”

Strachan succeeded O’Neill as Celtic manager in 2005 and joked that fans still pined for his predecessor during his early days in Glasgow.

“That’s a tester – following on from a legend like Martin. You’d get people coming up with cameras taking a photograph saying ‘You’re not bad but Martin’s a lot better – smile!’”

Roy Keane 15/12/2005 Strachan signed Roy Keane for Celtic in 2005. ©INPHO / Getty Images ©INPHO / Getty Images / Getty Images

Strachan also commented on Roy Keane’s claims in his latest autobiography The Second Half that the Scot had told him, during negotiations over a possible move to Celtic, that he wasn’t worried if  he signed for the club or not.   

He (Keane) spoke about when he first met in Dermot Desmond’s house. And I did say to him ‘Roy, it would be great if you come along but our midfield players – Lennon, Petrov – you can’t walk right into the team. But if you come along and perform, it’d be great to have you there.”

“I’ve enjoyed his company. He’s good fun as well. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of him. But he adds to the world. What a fantastic footballer. And when he was at Celtic, he spent all his time with the young lads, talking football to them. He was no hard work to us. None whatsoever.”

With three Euro 2016 qualifiers played, Group D is tight. Five teams are separated by just four points with Germany – the reigning World champions – beaten by Poland and held to a draw by a spirited Irish side last month. Strachan acknowledged just how competitive the qualifiers have been.

It’s the hardest group out there. Some groups are walkovers for some teams. This group has got it all. You never know when big game is coming. All you can do is perform. Ireland have performed and got points. We’ve performed and got points.”

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