This is how Derek McInnes will remember Craig Brown after his sad death this week.
The former Scotland coach died on Monday aged 82 after a short illness. The football community mourns the loss of one of the greatest characters, coaches and mentors to emerge from this world.
McInnes met Brown fairly early in his playing career. He has maintained a relationship with him ever since and grew close to him in their respective roles in Aberdeen.
Brown’s enthusiasm for life and football is something McInnes greatly admires and he admits the tributes that have been paid since his death have been very touching. Though the Kilmarnock boss doesn’t like the idea of getting by well into his 70s like Brown.
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“Craig was always very supportive,” the 51-year-old recalled. “I remember doing my B license here in Largs when I was 21. But I was also a runner when I was in Morton and came here during the closed season – back when the closed season was three months. It has helped me maintain my fitness.
“I’ve met Craig and people like Andy Roxburgh, Archie (Knox), Walter (Smith) and Dick Campbell and I’ve seen him work closely together. I could see how organized he was and how well lined up they were when all these top players took off their badges.
“He was always very supportive of every manager. Everyone had the advantage of being in his company.
“When I was at St Johnstone I bumped into him a couple of times and played against him. He was always very engaging but when I took charge of Aberdeen and he was on the board I got to know him on a much more personal level.
“It was good for me to have someone like him on the board and it went pretty well. He was always supportive, including to my wife and kids, he was always attentive when they were at games and they loved being around him and telling all the stories.
“Do I see myself as a leader at 73? Not really, and I don’t really want to imagine it either. But he just loved it. Living in Troon and in Aberdeen he felt a genuine zest for life.
“He had this old-fashioned trait of doing the right thing, not letting anyone down and being there for people. He was so sincere.
McInnes also revealed he was in touch with Brown’s son to offer him his condolences as he praised his old friend as the “innovator” of the Scottish game.
“It’s sad when you lose someone and my thoughts are with their family. I got in touch with his son John. They have to deal with the loss of their father and grandfather, but it is also a sad loss for all of us in football.
“I think Craig would have been pleased with some of the endorsements and honors he’s received. They really were fitting – and well deserved.
“I thought he was a real innovator, important for player development and coach education. He’s been a big driver in all of this and that shouldn’t be underestimated. As for his achievements as national coach, I think they have always been recognised. Maybe not then, but after the first couple of times we certainly didn’t manage to qualify for big tournaments.
“He did a great job. He had a tremendous impact on so many players who came under his tutelage. His influence on so many people and on Scottish football has been enormous. The awards were beautiful to look at.
“People enjoyed being around him, whether it was a player, a coach or the media. The humor in the dressing room never left him. He loved the vibes, telling and listening to funny stories, he was great company.
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“It was a brilliant move by Aberdeen to bring him onto the board. Everyone liked him. When I first walked into the club the staff loved it and Archie and the club realized he still had a role to play.
“He went to an event on the spur of the moment, mingled with the fans and despite everything he was doing in game, he still talked to everyone.
“He was happy to take his time and it always ended with a laugh and a joke. That’s great quality.
“Good or bad results, he was always the same. Management is no picnic and criticism that comes your way has to be endured. But he exceeded all of that with the way he was as a person.”