Scotland opportunity a huge pull for Austin MacPhee

Austin MacPhee says the opportunity to join Steve Clarke’s Scotland set-up was too good to turn down.

By Scott Inglis
Thursday, 26th August 2021, 9:17 am

North east Fife’s MacPhee, the founder of Cupar based AM Soccer and former Cupar Hearts manager, left his post as assistant coach with the Northern Ireland national team this week to join Clarke’s staff.

He has been part of the Northern Ireland backroom team since 2014 and worked under both Michael O’Neill and Ian Baraclough.

His tenure with the team stretched to over 70 internationals through Euro 2016 and play-off finals for FIFA World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Austin MacPhee was a well respected coach with Northern Ireland but his qualities will now benefit Scotland

He was clearly highly regarded with Northern Ireland, but admits the pull of being part of Clarke’s team was just too strong to turn down.

The 41-year-old, who also enjoyed a spell in the dug out with Heart of Midlothian and is currently a set-piece coach with Aston Villa, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Northern Ireland working under Michael O’Neill and more recently Ian Baraclough.

“Now a new opportunity has presented itself with my home nation and it is one I couldn’t turn down.

"I leave cherishing the wonderful memories made along the way, not least Euro 2016 which was a special time for the players, staff and the green and white army.”

The news of MacPhee’s arrival at Hampden was announced in a week when Clarke himself extended his spell as national coach.

The new deal comes after the historic qualification for UEFA Euro 2020 and ahead of the World Cup qualifying triple-header against Denmark, Moldova and Austria next month.

Also joining the Scotland set-up is former England goalkeeper Chris Woods, who will join as goalkeeping coach, with Steven Reid of Nottingham Forest and Stevie Woods of Celtic stepping down from their roles as assistant coach and goalkeeping coach respectively, due to club and family commitments.

On MacPhee, Clarke said: “Austin has major tournament experience with Northern Ireland and is now a respected set-piece coach in England’s Premier League.

"He is a specialist coach and his approach to coaching on the field and use of data off it will be an asset to the existing backroom staff.”