Alex McLeish: Wikis


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Alex McLeish
AlexMcLeish 2009 pre-season cropped.jpg
Personal information
Full name Alexander McLeish
Date of birth 21 January 1959 (1959-01-21) (age 51)
Place of birth Barrhead, Scotland
Playing position Central defender
Club information
Current club Birmingham City (manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1978–1994 Aberdeen 493 (25)
1994–1995 Motherwell 3 (0)
Total 496 (25)
National team
1980–1993 Scotland 77 (0[1])
Teams managed
1994–1998 Motherwell
1998–2001 Hibernian
2001–2006 Rangers
2007 Scotland
2007– Birmingham City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Alexander "Alex" McLeish (born 21 January 1959) nicknamed "Big Eck",[2] is a Scottish former professional footballer who played as a central defender. Born in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, he played for Aberdeen during their 1980s glory years, making nearly 500 League appearances for the club, and won 77 caps for Scotland.

He started his managerial career with spells at Motherwell and Hibernian, before guiding Rangers to two championships and five cup wins in five years. McLeish spent ten months as manager of the Scotland national team which narrowly failed to qualify for the finals of the 2008 UEFA European championship. He then resigned this post in November 2007 to become manager of Birmingham City, who were in the English Premier League at the time. Birmingham were relegated at the end of the 2007–08 season, but McLeish guided the club to promotion back to the Premier League in the following season.

In recognition of his distinguished service to Scottish sport, in 2008 McLeish was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen.[3]


Playing career


Aberdeen years

His playing career saw him join Aberdeen in 1976[4] where he formed a formidable defensive partnership with Willie Miller. He enjoyed great success at Aberdeen under the management of Alex Ferguson including a European Cup Winners' Cup win over Real Madrid.[4] When Ferguson left to go to Manchester United, he tried to get McLeish to sign, but it did not work out; he also had talks with Tottenham Hotspur. He won the Scottish player of the year in 1990.[4] He was captain of Aberdeen after the retirement of Willie Miller.

Even after he had won his first Scotland cap, Alex McLeish's father asked then Aberdeen boss Alex Ferguson to persuade him to continue training as an accountant.

Winners medals as Aberdeen player

International career

He also played in three World Cups with Scotland, in 1982, 1986 and 1990.[4] He is a member of both the Scottish Football Hall of Fame and the Scotland national football team roll of honour.[5] McLeish is Scotland's third most capped player, having gained 77 international caps between 1980 and 1993.[5]

Management career


After his successful playing career he quickly went into football management with Motherwell in 1994, one year before he retired as a player.[4] His first season at Motherwell saw him take the Lanarkshire club to second in the Premier League behind Walter Smith's Rangers.[4] However, he failed to build on this success and the next two season were spent in relegation battles. He resigned as manager to take over at Hibernian in 1998.[4]


McLeish took over a struggling Hibernian side, which was relegated from the Scottish Premier Division in 1998 despite a slight upturn in fortunes under McLeish. He then guided the Edinburgh team back to the Scottish Premier League at the first attempt by winning the First Division championship.[4]

Hibernian consolidated in their first season back in the top division, finishing mid-table and reaching the Scottish Cup semi-final.[4] In the 2000–01 season, Hibs started very strongly. Eventually they had to settle for third place and a Scottish Cup final appearance.[4] This performance attracted the attention of bigger clubs, including West Ham United and Rangers.

McLeish attracted top players such as Russell Latapy and former French international Franck Sauzée to Hibs. He also helped develop young striker Kenny Miller, who would later go on to play for Rangers,Wolves, Celtic, Derby County and Scotland.

During this period McLeish worked towards and was awarded a UEFA Pro Licence[6][7].


His work at Hibs was noticed, and he was linked with several moves to England, before he was appointed as Rangers manager in December 2001[8] after outgoing Rangers manager Dick Advocaat recommended McLeish to chairman David Murray.[9]

McLeish was an instant success at Rangers, winning both the Scottish Cup[10] and Scottish League Cup[11] in his first season, but the big prize of the league title was essentially lost before his arrival. His second season saw him go one better when he won the domestic treble, with the help of top players such as Ronald de Boer and Barry Ferguson.[12]

Rangers' worsening financial state saw many of his top players leave in the summer of 2003. Celtic won the league comfortably in season 2003–04, and Rangers failed to win any trophies.[13] McLeish was consequently put under pressure from fans after his poor signings and a record run of seven consecutive derby losses to Celtic.[14]

The high profile Bosman signings of Jean-Alain Boumsong and Dado Pršo in the close season of 2004–05 gave Rangers renewed hope of regaining the title from Celtic's grasp.[15] McLeish's team won the 2005 league title on a dramatic last day, an outcome that had looked highly unlikely after Rangers fell five points behind leaders Celtic with just four games remaining.[16]

After this unexpected success, McLeish and his Rangers team headed into the 2005–06 SPL campaign as favourites to retain the championship. McLeish made a number of signings, despite having little money to spend. These included Julien Rodriguez and Ian Murray. After a reasonable start to the season, including a win over Celtic,[17] Rangers suffered a series of poor results between September and November. This period included a club record of 10 games without a win. However the tenth match of this run, a 1–1 draw with Inter Milan in the Champions League, took Rangers into the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.[18]

Despite the poor domestic form, McLeish guided Rangers to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they were defeated on the away goals rule by Villarreal.[19] They became the first Scottish team to progress this far in the European Cup since 1993, and the first Scottish team to progress through a European group stage.[18] In December, chairman David Murray publicly announced his support for McLeish.[20] Rangers then went on a good run of results in December and January.

This run of good results came to a sudden halt when they were defeated 3–0 by Hibernian in the Scottish Cup,[21] prompting protests outside Ibrox against both McLeish and David Murray.[22] On 9 February 2006, it was announced by chairman David Murray that McLeish would be standing down as manager at the end of that season.[23]

It was later announced that he would be succeeded by former Olympique Lyonnais manager Paul Le Guen. Rangers beat Hearts 2–0 at Ibrox Stadium, in his final match as manager.[24]


McLeish said after leaving Rangers that he would not manage another Scottish club, because he felt that he had achieved everything in the Scottish game.[25] He was linked in the media with a number of managerial positions in England while he worked as a television pundit for the BBC and Setanta Sports.

McLeish took charge of the Scotland national side on 29 January 2007.[26] His assistants in the job were Roy Aitken and Andy Watson. McLeish's first game in charge of the national team was a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match, a 2–1 victory against Georgia on 24 March 2007 at Hampden Park.[27] His second game was an away fixture against Italy on 28 March 2007 which ended in a 2–0 defeat.[28]

McLeish's Scotland side then went on to defeat the Faroe Islands away in June,[29] Lithuania at home in September[30] before recording a historic victory in Paris four days later by defeating France 1–0 in the Parc des Princes.[31] James McFadden's 64th-minute strike from 30 yards was enough to earn Scotland the win and returned them to the top of Group B with three games to play. This result has been hailed as one of the Scotland national team's greatest victories.[32] Scotland's next success was at home to Ukraine, winning 3–1 at Hampden on 13 October. McLeish suffered his second defeat as manager, away in Georgia on 17 October. This result left him facing a decider against the World Champions, Italy. Scotland lost the game, McLeish's last, and Italy qualified for the finals.

Birmingham City

Premier League Birmingham City's approach to the SFA for permission to speak to McLeish about their managerial vacancy was refused,[33] but on his return on 27 November 2007 from attending the draw for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification in South Africa, he resigned his post as manager of Scotland[34] and was announced as Birmingham's new manager the following day. His assistants with Scotland, Roy Aitken and Andy Watson, were to accompany him. McLeish said he wanted to return to working with players on a daily basis and had "always harboured a desire" to manage in the Premier League.[35]

McLeish on the touchline at St Andrew's

He enjoyed a positive managerial debut with Birmingham, winning 3–2 away to Tottenham Hotspur.[36] In the January 2008 transfer window, McLeish strengthened Birmingham's squad, buying David Murphy and James McFadden and signing Argentina under-20 international Mauro Zárate on loan, while generating funds by allowing fringe players to leave.[37] He was unable to save Birmingham from relegation, despite the team recording an impressive 4–1 victory over Blackburn Rovers on the last day of the season.[38]

McLeish improved the club's backroom staff and training procedures, appointed David Watson as goalkeeping coach, and overhauled the scouting setup, bringing in Paul Montgomery – the scout who recommended a relatively unknown Didier Drogba to West Ham United – to oversee player recruitment.[39]

On the final day of the 2008–09 season, McLeish secured Birmingham's return to the top flight of English football at the first attempt with a 2–1 away victory over Reading.[40] By mid-January 2010, McLeish had guided them to a 12-game unbeaten run, a club record in the top division,[41] set a Premier League record by selecting the same starting eleven for nine consecutive games,[42] and been named Premier League Manager of the Month for December 2009, the first Birmingham manager to receive the award.[43]

Managerial honours

Club honours

Individual awards



Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Motherwell  Scotland 13 July 1994 10 February 1998 &0000000000000156.000000156 &0000000000000048.00000048 &0000000000000045.00000045 &0000000000000063.00000063 &0000000000000030.77000030.77
Hibernian  Scotland 11 February 1998 11 December 2001 &0000000000000164.000000164 &0000000000000077.00000077 &0000000000000042.00000042 &0000000000000045.00000045 &0000000000000046.95000046.95
Rangers  Scotland 13 December 2001 8 May 2006 &0000000000000235.000000235 &0000000000000155.000000155 &0000000000000044.00000044 &0000000000000036.00000036 &0000000000000065.96000065.96
Scotland  Scotland 29 January 2007 27 November 2007 &0000000000000010.00000010 &0000000000000007.0000007 &-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.0000000 &0000000000000003.0000003 &0000000000000070.00000070.00
Birmingham City  England 28 November 2007 Present &0000000000000110.000000110 &0000000000000045.00000045 &0000000000000032.00000032 &0000000000000033.00000033 &0000000000000040.91000040.91
Total &0000000000000675.000000675 &0000000000000332.000000332 &0000000000000163.000000163 &0000000000000180.000000180 &0000000000000049.19000049.19
As of 13 March 2010.[46]


  1. ^ "Alex McLeish - A Squad". Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "manager profile - Alex McLeish". Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  3. ^ "Alex McLeish honoured by University of Aberdeen". Birmingham Mail. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Alex McLeish Factfile". BBC Sport. 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  5. ^ a b "International Roll of Honour". Scottish Football Association. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  6. ^ "Andy caps his return to the big time". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2009-21-8. 
  7. ^ "England could learn from Scottish system". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-21-8. 
  8. ^ "Rangers unveil McLeish". BBC Sport. 11 February 2001. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  9. ^ Darryl Broadfoot (9 October 2007). "Advocaat’s vested interest in the improbable dream". The Herald. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  10. ^ "Rangers win Old Firm final". BBC Sport. 4 May 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Rangers lift CIS Cup". BBC Sport. 17 March 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  12. ^ "Rangers complete Treble". BBC Sport. 31 May 2003. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  13. ^ "Past Managers - Alex McLeish". Rangers FC.,,5~1555142,00.html. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "Bosses talk up Old Firm meeting". BBC Sport. 9 November 2004. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  15. ^ Angus Wright (10 May 2004). "Prso capture sees McLeish celebrate". The Scotsman. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  16. ^ "Rangers in dramatic title triumph". BBC Sport. 22 May 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  17. ^ "Rangers 3-1 Celtic". BBC Sport. 20 October 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  18. ^ a b "Rangers 1-1 Inter Milan". BBC Sport. 6 December 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  19. ^ "Villarreal 1-1 Rangers (agg 3-3)". BBC Sport. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  20. ^ "McLeish receives Murray's backing". BBC Sport. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  21. ^ "Rangers 0-3 Hibernian". BBC Sport. 4 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  22. ^ "Fans expect more Ibrox protests". BBC Sport. 6 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  23. ^ "McLeish to leave Rangers in May". BBC Sport. 9 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  24. ^ "Rangers 2-0 Hearts". BBC Sport. 7 May 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2007. 
  25. ^ "'I'm a Rangers man - I couldn't manage another Scottish club'". The Scotsman. 2006-02-11. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  26. ^ "McLeish unveiled as Scotland boss". BBC Sport. 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  27. ^ "Scotland 2-1 Georgia". BBC Sport. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  28. ^ "Italy 2-0 Scotland". BBC Sport. 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  29. ^ "Faroe Islands 0-2 Scotland". BBC Sport. 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  30. ^ "Scotland 3-1 Lithuania". BBC Sport. 2007-09-08. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  31. ^ "France 0-1 Scotland". BBC Sport. 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  32. ^ "McLeish proud of superb Scotland". BBC Sport. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  33. ^ "SFA reject official approach for McLeish". The Scotsman. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  34. ^ "McLeish leaves Scotland for Blues". BBC Sport. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  35. ^ "Birmingham unveil McLeish as boss". BBC Sport. 28 November 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  36. ^ Soni, Paresh (2 December 2007). "Tottenham 2–3 Birmingham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 November 2008. 
  37. ^ Tattum, Colin (2008-01-23). "Alex McLeish back to square one in defender hunt". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  38. ^ McKenzie, Andrew (11 May 2008). "Birmingham 4–1 Blackburn". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 November 2008. 
  39. ^ "McLeish orders reform of Birmingham City scouting". Birmingham Mail. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  40. ^ Fletcher, Paul (3 May 2009). "Birmingham clinch top-flight spot". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  41. ^ "McLeish proud of Blues". Sky Sports. 9 January 2010.,,12040_5850655,0.html. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  42. ^ Tyler, Martin (12 January 2010). "The cold rush". Sky Sports.,25212,12038_5854263,00.html. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  43. ^ "McLeish named Barclays Manager of the Month". Premier League. 8 January 2010.,,12306~1927304,00.html. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  44. ^ "2005 Inductees". Scottish Football Museum Hal of Fame. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  45. ^ "Statistics - Roll of honour since 2000". Scottish Premier League. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  46. ^ "Alex McLeish's managerial career". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Willie Miller
Aberdeen FC captain
Succeeded by
Stewart McKimmie

Simple English

Alex McLeish is a Scottish association football manager. He was born in 1959 and is currently manager of Birmingham City F.C.. He also managed Rangers F.C. and the Scotland national football team.



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