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Derek Johnstone
Personal information
Full name Derek Joseph Johnstone
Date of birth 4 November 1953 (1953-11-04) (age 56)
Place of birth    Dundee, Scotland
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Defender / Striker
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Dundee United (loan)
Partick Thistle
350 (131)
004 00(0)
004 00(0)
019 00(1)
004 00(0)   
National team
1973–1979 Scotland 014 00(2)
Teams managed
1986–1987 Partick Thistle

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Derek Joseph Johnstone (born November 4, 1953 in Dundee, Tayside) is a Scottish former professional association footballer.

Johnstone played mainly for Rangers during his career. He also had a spell at Chelsea and a brief stint in management with Partick Thistle. He mainly played as a striker but could also perform in central defence, and in midfield. Uniquely, he was selected to play in defence, midfield, and attack for Scotland.


Club career



Johnstone, a boyhood Dundee United supporter, signed for Rangers as a schoolboy in 1968. He turned professional in 1970 and made his debut aged 16 years and 319 days against Cowdenbeath on 19 September 1970, scoring twice on his debut, a 5-0 victory.[1]

Johnstone thrust himself into the limelight a few months later when his header secured a 1-0 victory over Celtic in the Scottish League Cup Final of 1970-71. Johnstone was just sixteen-years-old at the time, but the faith shown in his ability by manager Willie Waddell paid off handsomely, as Rangers claimed their first piece of silverware for almost five years.

Despite his heroics against Celtic, Johnstone found regular first-team outings in the number nine jersey hard to come by, largely due to the presence of Colin Stein, Scotland's first £100,000 player, although he did score eleven goals in sixteen league appearances during the 1971-72 season. He compensated for his lack of frontline action by often playing as a centre-back when either Ronnie McKinnon or Colin Jackson were injured, and when the duo were ruled out of the European Cup Winners' Cup Final in 1972, Johnstone, still only eighteen, deputised in the showpiece match against Dynamo Moscow. His mature display in Rangers' 3-2 victory belied his youth and inexperience.

With performances such as this, Johnstone soon became a regular in the starting line-up, and he picked up a Scottish Cup winners' medal in 1973 when Rangers defeated Celtic 3-2 at Hampden Park. Derek played a huge role in the winning goal, rising above the Celtic defence to head a Tommy McLean free-kick towards goal, and when his header struck both posts, Tam Forsyth was on hand to nudge the rebound over the line. The McLean-Johnstone combination that created this famous goal was a hallmark of Rangers' play in the 1970s.

Johnstone eventually picked up a league championship medal at the end of the 1974-75 campaign, as Rangers ended Celtic's nine-year reign as Kings of Scotland, and he was an integral part of The 'Gers Treble success a year later. He scored a total of thirty-one goals in fifty-one appearances, including two in a 3-1 win over Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final. He scored his first, a typical header, after just forty-two seconds and thus earned himself a unique place in the annals of Scottish Football. The referee had actually kicked off the match early, so Johnstone had actually hit the net before the allotted 3pm kick-off time had been reached!

Although 1976-77 was a barren season for Rangers, they came back with a bang in 1977-78 by winning their second Treble inside three years. Johnstone was the outstanding performer in what was an exceptional Rangers side, scoring thirty-eight goals over the course of the campaign and picking up the Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year accolade.

With Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur reportedly interested in luring Rangers' top marksman to London, Johnstone submitted a transfer request in the summer of 1978. He was seeking a new challenge in his career, but the intervention of new Rangers manager John Greig persuaded Johnstone to stay in Glasgow. He was named club captain, and in his first season with the armband, he almost led Rangers to an unprecedented second successive Treble. Only a last-gasp 4-2 defeat against Celtic at Parkhead robbed Rangers of the Championship, but Johnstone did get his hands on the Scottish Cup - he scored twice in the Final's second replay against Hibernian - and the Scottish League Cup.

That season was to be the high watermark for the John Greig era, though, and Rangers' fortunes nose-dived spectacularly thereafter. They did win the Scottish Cup in 1981 and the Scottish League Cup in 1982, but they found themselves playing second fiddle in the Premier Division to Celtic and the emerging 'New Firm' of Aberdeen and Dundee United.


Johnstone was placed on the transfer list by John Greig in April 1983, and he left Ibrox after the Scottish Cup Final defeat against Aberdeen to try his luck south of the border with Chelsea, the Londoners paying a fee of £30,000 to secure his signature. But his time at Stamford Bridge was not a success. He failed to hold down a regular place, and had a month on loan to Dundee United in 1984.

Return to Rangers

He was tempted back to Ibrox by Jock Wallace in January 1985 for £25,000. He returned to a Rangers side that was in the midst of a doleful period in their history, and it was hoped that the return of a former favourite could galvanise an ailing team. Alas, it failed to work out and Johnstone was handed a free transfer when Graeme Souness took over the reins at Ibrox in the summer of 1986. His return to Ibrox was not a success, just 23 appearances and one goal.

International career

Johnstone made his debut in a British Home Championship match against Wales. Despite Johnstone's rich vein of scoring form in 1978, he was overlooked by Ally McLeod during Scotland's ill-fated World Cup campaign in Argentina. Although he was a member of the squad, he did not start any of the three matches that the Scots played.

International goals

Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 13 May 1978 Glasgow, Scotland  Northern Ireland 1-1 1-1 British Home Championship
2. 17 May 1978 Glasgow, Scotland  Wales 1-0 1-1 British Home Championship

Managerial career

He had a short spell as player-manager of Partick Thistle which was short and unhappy. Johnstone left the professional game in 1987.

Post football career

Since then, he has worked extensively in the football media, including for BBC Scotland and Radio Clyde.


External links


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