Jim McLean turned Dundee United from also-rans to champions of Scotland and a force to be reckoned with in Europe.
Boxing Day marks one year since the passing of the football legend.
His legacy looms large and McLean’s 29 years as manager, director and chairman of one club is unlikely to be equalled in Scottish football.
But there were many times when he thought his stay at Tannadice was up.
Stamford Bridge offer
In a forgotten interview from 1996 McLean admitted he offered to resign at least 10 times while 14 offers to manage other clubs landed in his office.
The offer to replace Rangers manager John Greig at Ibrox in 1983 is well-known but McLean also turned down others from Hibs, Hearts, Newcastle and Chelsea.
The-then 34-year-old McLean succeeded retiring United boss Jerry Kerr in December 1971 after spending 18 months as first-team coach at Dundee.
His first priority was to get the team in shape as he felt they were miles short of the level of fitness required for supposedly elite athletes.
McLean’s first match in the Tannadice hot-seat was a home match against part-time Ayr United on December 11 1971, which ended in a disappointing 2-2 draw.
He said he almost left Tannadice as quickly as he arrived.
“I first decided to quit after only a few months and, in my early years, I regularly told Johnston Grant (director and chairman) that I’d had enough,” he said.
“My reasons were usually simple. I was afraid that in the future I could not match the heights reached the previous season.
“I’m glad I always ended up changing my mind.”
The Rangers board turned to McLean in the tumultuous autumn of 1983 when John Greig was sacked following a five-year spell in charge.
The Ibrox club thought they’d lured Alex Ferguson away from Aberdeen, only for an eleventh hour about turn by their target.
Then McLean was offered the position.
He initially indicated his willingness to leave Tannadice for Ibrox before changing his mind despite an offer from Rangers to double his wages.
“Willie Waddell had phoned me and told me to go because I’d get everything I’d asked for, and the great Jock Stein also told me to take the job,” he said.
“I wanted his advice and we met in the car park at Hampden.
“We had won the league the previous season and he asked me if I thought we could do it again that season.
“When I told him I doubted it, he said I’d be regarded a failure, no matter how unfairly, and the best thing I could do was go to Rangers.
“When I told him I was undecided he went crazy.
“He could not believe I might pass up such a chance.”
What were some of the other job offers he received whilst United manager?
McLean turned down Hibs, Hearts, Motherwell, Newcastle, Wolves and Chelsea but was almost persuaded to start a new life in the North American Soccer League.
“To be honest, however, the one job offer that might have tempted me to move was from Toronto Blizzard,” he said.
“That was attractive because I always wanted to coach and live abroad.”
Of course, he turned down all those offers.
He insisted that, in most cases, staying was more difficult than leaving.
“It’s been written that I was scared to go, but that’s stupid,” he said.
“As far as I am concerned, the easy decision would have been to accept one of those jobs.
“The hard thing to do was come into the same place every day for 25 years knowing that you would probably not be able to maintain the success you’d already had, but being willing to try.”
One big factor in every decision to stay has been his love for the Dundee area.
In fact, in the case of Rangers, the quality of life on the east coast was the deciding reason for staying put.
“I love living in this area and so do my family,” he said.
“Coming from the west, I knew what they could be subjected to if I took the Rangers job and, in the end, I decided that it was not worth it.
“Funnily enough, when I came to live here when I was with Dundee, John Prentice said to me the people up here were funny.
“The only thing I can say about that is they’ve never managed to make me laugh!”
Looked for perfection
McLean managed United from 1971-93, becoming the longest-serving and most successful manager in the club’s history.
He was also assistant to Jock Stein with the Scotland national team in the early 1980s.
McLean decided to swap his manager’s chair for the chairman’s seat on a full-time basis in 1993, before eventually departing the role for good in 2000.
He died at the age of 83 on Boxing Day 2020 following a battle with dementia.
Dundee United Who’s Who author Pat Kelly said: “I would say that loyalty was what Jim always looked for in life.
“Loyalty to the club was another reason why, in my opinion, with conversations we had, were the driving force behind those job refusals.
“Jim was a very kind man and a perfectionist.
“He only ever wanted to see the best in people.
“To me that is why he was hard on his players.
“It is a sad day that we won’t see his likes again in football.”
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