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Sunday, 21 October, 2001, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
McLeish reveals report card trauma
Henry McLeish
The First Minister was spurred on by his teachers' comments
Henry McLeish has revealed that an unfavourable report card from school marked a major turning point in his life.

Scotland's First Minister told the Sunday Herald newspaper he was "too concerned with football" while a pupil at Buckhaven High School in Fife.

Mr McLeish, who signed for Leeds United at the age of 15, said he was written off at an early age by his school master as having no future in education.

He told the paper that on leaving for Leeds, his rector wrote on a report card: "I am glad the boy is a good footballer as he has no future in education."


Until the age of 15, I seriously missed out and always had to compensate and work harder

Henry McLeish
First Minister

However, Mr McLeish lasted less than two months in England because of homesickness.

He returned home to play for East Fife while resuming his studies and later gaining a place at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

He said: "I had to put into the next two years what I'd failed to do for the previous 15.

"I had to start fourth year at school when I had nothing.

"I was getting 20% for French and 18% for maths because I was too concerned with football."

The 53-year-old also spoke of becoming a "workaholic", adding: "Until the age of 15, I seriously missed out and always had to compensate and work harder."

'Great confidence'

Mr McLeish, who became First Minister following the death of Donald Dewar, also admitted being ill-prepared for the top post.

He insisted his initial problems had been overcome and he now enjoys the job.

He said: "I suspect the transition was tougher than I thought it would be. I was ill-prepared.

"I have great confidence in my own ability, but it takes a lot to get involved in every subject under the sun.

"I was, in a way, not ready, and brought a lot of problems on my own head, but the Executive is working out."

See also:

09 Oct 01 | Scotland
'500m boost' from Euro 2008
05 Sep 01 | Scotland
McLeish unveils legislative plans
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