Malky Mackay bumped into a ghost of Scotland’s past when he was invited to speak to a classroom of coaches in Brazil.
The Scottish FA’s performance director was in South America at the request of the CBF in December to give a Pro Licence presentation over two days to the great and the good of a country which has been world champions five times.
Among those present at the Granja Comary football complex in Teresopolis was the Selecao’s assistant coach Cesar Sampaio, the man who scored the first goal of the 1998 World Cup in France in the opener between Brazil and Scotland.
And he was keen to remind the former Celtic, West Ham and Scotland defender of his part in the 2-1 win in Paris.
Mackay told PA news agency: “I had a wee laugh with Cesar Sampaio.
“He wanted to talk to me about Scotland, he had a fond memory of scoring against us in the 1998 World Cup.
“The goal was four minutes in, the first of the tournament.
“I remember it, I was there with some of my mates, we had driven to Paris and I was in the Stade de France watching some of my colleagues play.
“To be presenting to coaches in Brazil many years later, you pinch yourself at the end and you are thinking, ‘wow’.
“But they couldn’t thank me enough for travelling so far to do that.”
Mackay is well aware that Scotland have not qualified for a finals of a major tournament since the sojourn to France 22 years ago.
However, while the team has had its struggles over the years, the Scottish FA’s coaching education has been highly regarded in the game since and even before former Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh was appointed UEFA’s first technical director in 1994.
The former Watford, Cardiff and Wigan boss was “privileged and honoured” to be asked by Mauricio Marques from the Brazilian coach education department to help a country still coming to terms with their humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup.
“We are talking about a country that has won the World Cup five times so let’s be calm,” said Mackay.
“But within their own system, which has been only running nine years, there is a desire for coach education.
“The 7-1 game gave a wake-up call to people who expected to win everything all the time.
“They are rebooting their structure and it is about the education of their coaches in a more detailed way with as many facets from around the world as possible.
“We have been doing this for a long time when you think Andy Roxburgh started the (SFA) coaching education department (1975).
“Our licenses are valued massively. Their first Pro License coaches only graduated in 2016.
“But I was very conscious that I was talking to coaches from a fabulous football country.
“The group of 30 that first sat in front of me had nine Brazil Seria A managers in it, the national team manager Tite and of course, his assistant Cesar Sampaio.
“The current top manager in Brazil right now, Renato Gaucho of Gremio, was a big character in the room and had lots to say.
“The next day’s class had former Brazil manager Mano Menezes in it so you are talking about experienced groups of people but it was about coach education and instilling best practise into structures.
“I spoke about what a performance strategy would look like in a federation: sports science, talent identification, performance analysis, youths, national teams and how they all linked together, opposition analysis, the standardised way of working with youth teams.
“I was at pains to say I am not saying this is the way to do it, I am saying this is the way we do it.
“To go out there as a Scotsman with the Scottish badge was an absolute pleasure and an honour to be in there among them.
“It was a great experience.”
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