Gordon Strachan could be on the verge of a stunning return to Dens Park as the former Scotland manager continues discussions with Dundee.
Dark Blues managing director John Nelms is keen to bring the vastly-experienced coach in to guide the club – and the new manager – in their pursuit of a return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
Having managed for almost 23 years and won numerous trophies while at Celtic before eventually taking over as Scotland manager in 2013, Strachan’s knowhow is seen as vital for the Dark Blues behind the scenes.
His managerial record is well-known but those of the younger vintage won’t know much about the beginnings of his football career as a youngster at Dundee.
Strachan would make 91 appearances with the Dens Park club over five seasons from 1973-1977. His time at the club would be mixed, however.
A stand-out in the reserve side, a 16-year-old Strachan made his debut first-team appearance as a substitute for the Dark Blues in the Drybrough Cup, a 1-0 extra-time victory at home to Raith Rovers, on July 28, 1973. He would come off the bench again a few weeks later in a 3-0 League Cup victory at Partick Thistle – a competition they’d eventually go on to win by seeing off Celtic at Hampden through Gordon Wallace’s single strike.
The young Strachan, however, would have to wait till the end of the following season to make a first league start for the club – a 2-0 home win over Hearts with goals from Ian Anderson and Jocky Scott that saw them finish in sixth in the old Division One.
In 1975/76, under manager Davie White, after two Scottish Reserve Player of the Year awards, Strachan made himself a mainstay of the Dark Blues’ side in the top flight.
It was a struggle of a season, however, and despite the emergence of the talented youngster Strachan, Dundee toiled.
Their defence of the League Cup ended before the end of August as they bowed out in the old-style group stage with two defeats to Hibs as well as a draw and loss against Ayr United.
A 3-2 opening-day victory over Aberdeen in the league promised better in that competition but then a winless run of five games followed, signalling a troubling campaign.
Strachan would grab his first senior goal with a penalty in a 6-3 defeat at Dens Park to Motherwell and then add two more in draws against Hearts and Ayr before a double against St Johnstone.
However, in his first full season as a senior pro, Strachan’s side were relegated from the very first Premier Division on goal difference despite finishing on the same points as neighbours Dundee United and Aberdeen.
Despite 44 goals from Billy Pirie and 90 netted throughout the season, the Dark Blues couldn’t get back up at the first time of asking, finishing third behind St Mirren and Clydebank.
The failure to return immediately left the club with dire financial consequences, forcing them to sell their star Strachan to Aberdeen to prevent the bank closing the doors at Dens.
A fee of £85,000 plus Jim Shirra saw a 20-year-old Strachan head for Pittodrie to play for Billy McNeill.
He’d eventually go on to win two Premier Divisions, three Scottish Cups, the European Cup Winner’s Cup and the European Super Cup with the Dons.
His career down south would see him win the FA Cup with Manchester United and the last First Division title with Leeds United in a stellar club career that also saw him capped 50 times by Scotland, scoring five goals and playing in two World Cups.