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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 16:52 GMT


Generals in the firing line

Keegan and Brown at the FA Coaches Conference in October

Ever since he was named England coach, Kevin Keegan has been trying to revive the England-Scotland match.

But on 13 October Uefa did it for him. Twice.

Battle of Britain
The oldest fixture in the international calendar will double up as a European Championship qualifying play-off after Lennart Johansson, Uefa's president pulled, first Scotland, then England, out of the bowl in Aachen.

It was the first tie drawn and, just as in December 1995, when they were paired together in the following summer's European Championship finals, the revelation was met with gasps and roars from the audience.

Keegan, who gave a wry laugh when the pairing was made, seemed to be talking as much as a fan as a coach when he added: "It is very exciting.

"The Scots are fanatical about their football and so are the English.

"They will be two great games, like cup-ties, in front of big crowds and I'm sure they will be great advertisements. Both teams will be up for it and I'm really looking forward to it."

For both Keegan and Scottish coach, Craig Brown, the matches represent an opportunity to progress to the Euro 2000 finals.

But they are more than that; two games against the auld enemy, a contest immediately dubbed "The Battle of Britain".

From perm to people's choice

Since he took over as coach of England, Keegan, has overseen a period of relative stagnation.

Drawing with Bulgaria and Poland away, as well as Sweden at home, his England side have yet to find their form.


[ image: Kevin Keegan failed to take Newcastle United to the Premiership title]
Kevin Keegan failed to take Newcastle United to the Premiership title
On paper, Keegan's credentials for the England job appeared wafer-thin. For the fans, however, Keegan's full-time appointment was a dream come true.

As manager of Newcastle and Fulham he won nothing of any note, but the advantage he held over his rivals to replace Glenn Hoddle, was his unchallenged standing as "people's champion" - the natural successor to Brian Clough.

While not the most naturally talented player, Keegan became one of the success stories of the 1970s, combining hard graft with bloody-minded ambition to twice become European Footballer of the Year.

His trademark perm launched a thousand haircuts and made him one of the most recognisable figures of the decade.

His desire to achieve has often caused him to veer towards the emotional, however.

He stormed out of one England training session, angered by Don Revie and railed at Alex Ferguson on air, shouting that he would "love it" if Newcastle defeated Manchester United in the race for the championship.

Mr Nice

The contrast to Brown could not be greater.

Brown is football's Mr Nice. A former primary school headmaster, he is softly spoken and always polite.

Brown had a low-profile playing career with Dundee and never represented Scotland.


[ image: Craig Brown enjoyed a spell as assistant national coach back in 1990]
Craig Brown enjoyed a spell as assistant national coach back in 1990
He was manager of Clyde before his appointment as national coach, a decision greeted with much scepticism.

But he has got on with the job and answered his critics with good results and now he is on the verge of taking Scotland to his second European championship finals.

In one sense, Brown may be at an advantage, since he regularly watches English football. Keegan may know about the Anglos in the Scottish side, including the trio from Goodison Park.

But players like Mark Burchill, Gary McSwegan, Neil McCann and Paul Ritchie are little known south of the border.

"We won't underestimate the Scots. I have a lot of respect for them and Craig has done a fantastic job," Keegan said.

Brown, unlike Keegan, has managerial experience of this fixture having been in charge of Scotland in Euro 96.

England, though, are likely to have more playing survivors from that game and Keegan himself appeared in three of them as a player (won two, lost one).

Brown and Scottish fans will, no doubt, recall with relish that during the Euro 96 encounter, not only were Scotland the better side in the first half, Gary McAllister also missed a penalty at 1-0 just minutes before Paul Gascoigne's goal.

It could have been so different three years ago and Keegan is unlikely to take his neighbours from the north for granted.



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In this section

Scotland squad guide

England squad guide

Great border skirmishes

Generals in the firing line

A history of fierce football rivalry

Fans in court over football trouble

Scotland v England

Lambert out of play-offs

Hendry's double jeopardy

Brown cautious over Hendry injury

The limitations of passion-play

England claim the prize

All quiet after Wembley showdown

Timeline: England v Scotland II

Hooligans face up to smart cameras

Cheers and tears for Scotland