TEN OF THE BEST
Hall of Fame legend Colin Stein shares his Ten of the Best with your club website
THIS season we’ll be re-publishing a much loved programme feature where various former players and staff talk about some of their favourite experiences and tales from football in 10 of the Best.
European Cup Winners’ Cup legend Stein recalls his battles with Franz Beckenbauer, scoring past England’s Gordon Banks and knocking back the chance to join Everton.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH COLIN FOR HIM TO ANSWER TEN OF THE BEST – SCROLL DOWN TO READ BELOW.
Best Goal Of My Career
At Wembley in 1969 I was in a Scotland side that faced England and I probably scored the best goal of my career past Gordon Banks.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Unfortunately we lost 4-1 but it was the first time a game had been played at Wembley on a Saturday night so it was something new for the fans and the players involved.
For my goal Eddie Gray, who was at Leeds United, got the ball on the left wing and he crossed it over and I got up and managed to head it past Banks. It was a great feeling as the stadium was full of Scottish supporters and it was the first time I had played at Wembley.
England were still on a high after winning the World Cup in 1966 and they had a cracking team. I personally came up against Bobby Moore so I knew it would be tough but we were 2-0 down in the first half when I scored and that gave us a bit of hope going into the second half.
After the break however Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters scored two more for England which was disappointing but to this day I’m still pleased with the goal I got that night.
Best Stadium Played At
The best stadium I went to during my playing career was the Maracana in Brazil. Obviously Ibrox is special to me and Wembley was great in terms of the atmosphere but the Maracana was unbelievable, it was massive and even the dressing rooms were huge compared to other places I had been to.
I went over there on tour with Scotland in 1972 and we faced Brazil in the Independence Cup at the Maracana. The capacity back then was 200,000 and although it wasn’t full it was still a fantastic experience being there.
I didn’t play in the game but I was part of the squad and I remember walking out on to the pitch, you felt so small inside this vast stadium. We lost 1-0 but it was great to go somewhere like that and to see it with your own eyes. In the Independence Cup we also came up against Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia but we drew both these group matches – 2-2 and 0-0 – and didn’t progress any further.
Best Defender Faced
I was fortunate to come up against a lot of great defenders but the best centre half I ever faced was Bayern Munich’s Franz Beckenbauer.
In the early 70s I played against him several times when Rangers were drawn against Bayern in European competitions and I was also in a Scotland team which lost 3-2 to West Germany in Hamburg back in October 1969.
Beckenbauer played on that occasion as well and he was just a class act. He was not only a great defender but he was brilliant at going forward and was really quick.
He was always looking to get up the park and because of his pace and football brain he could do that with ease when he chose to. He went on to win the European Cup with Bayern in 1974, 1975 and 1976 and on top of that he captained West Germany to victory in the World Cup in 1974.
He was also West Germany’s manager when they lifted the World Cup again in 1990 so he is rightly regarded as a legend. I’ve actually got his West Germany strip up in my loft from that game in Hamburg in ’69 and I’m sure Franz is delighted to have mine!
Best Player Played With
I’ve been asked a lot of times who was the best player I played with and although I was lucky to have so many fantastic team-mates if I had to pick one I would say Denis Law.
I played with Denis when we were with Scotland, in fact he was on the tour of Brazil when we went to the Maracana in ‘72.
Denis was a boyhood hero of mine and he was a striker and goalscorer I always looked up to.
You have to remember he was only 18 when he was first picked for Scotland and at that time I would have been 11 so it was strange for me as I got older to be picked for the national team and to then play alongside someone I had admired so much as I was growing up. Denis, of course, has so much charisma and he is a great guy.
I always remember he smoked like a chimney back then, he was like Willie Johnston in that he liked a cigarette, but he was a great striker and when we played together I think I did most of the running and he got the goals.
Best Career Memory
– I’ve got so many great memories from my career but my best moment as a player was winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Rangers in the Nou Camp in 1972.
It is probably the greatest night in Rangers’ history and to score our first goal in the 3-2 victory that night is something I’ll never forget. I’m sure Willie (Johnston) will say the same thing having scored the other two goals but it’s something that lives with you forever and people still come up to me and ask me about it to this day.
The only disappointment for me was that we weren’t presented with the trophy because fans were on the pitch. But that aside it was an incredible night and I can still remember the thousands of fans waiting for the team bus as we arrived at the stadium. The support we had was incredible and I was so happy we gave them a victory that evening in Barcelona.
Best Childhood Memories
My best memories from my childhood are watching my two older brothers Eric and Robert play football for Broxburn Athletic which is a Junior team in West Lothian.
Eric went on to play for the Scottish Junior side and Robert played for Raith Rovers, Montrose and East Stirling. Being the youngest they always encouraged me to get into football and I really enjoyed going to see them play.
I actually came up against Bobby two or three times when he was with Raith Rovers in the First Division and I was with Hibs. He wasn’t playing directly against me so we managed to stay out of each other’s way which was probably a good thing!
If I remember rightly we got the better of Raith back then but they had a good side and there wasn’t a lot between the two teams.
Best Preseason Trip
One of the best pre-season trips wasn’t with Rangers, it was when Hibs went to Canada at the start of my career.
It was the summer of 1967 and I was getting ready to go abroad for the first time in my life with the squad.
Unfortunately I got chicken pox just days before the trip so I had to stay at home for a fortnight before I could fly out! I was only a young guy and I had never been on a plane so you can imagine how excited I was.
We were based in Toronto but travelled across North America playing in games and in total the trip lasted for 10 weeks. I was only there for eight because of the chicken pox and I remember I then got sunstroke once I got out to Canada.
I took some stick from the other players but I have wonderful memories from that time as it was a new experience for me. We also had a very good Hibs team back then with the likes of Pat Stanton and Peter Cormack playing for the club.
Best Career Decision
In any footballer’s career there are times when you have to make big decisions for the good of your career and the best decision I made was to join Rangers in October 1968.
I had the chance to go to Everton and Harry Catterick, who was their manager, came up to a hotel in Edinburgh and tried to sign me.
He did everything he could, in fact he even spoke to my fiancé and tried to sell the move to her, but I decided to join Rangers the next day and I scored two league hat-tricks straight away against Arbroath and my former club Hibs which helped me a lot.
That got the Rangers supporters on my side but, looking back, moving to Ibrox was a huge decision for me as I was only 21 and Everton were one of the biggest clubs in England.
The transfer fee was £100,000 which was a record between Scottish clubs so that put a bit of pressure on me as well. I often wonder what would have happened if I had decided to move south of the border but I don’t have any regrets about moving to Ibrox, none whatsoever.
Best Thing About Being A Former Player
The best thing about being a former player at Rangers, for me anyway, is coming back to Ibrox on a match day. A lot of the old players are now hosts in the Stadium’s hospitality suites and I do that as well which is great.
It gives you an opportunity to catch up with some of your team-mates as well as other former players from different eras. It’s nice to spend an afternoon chatting about football and hearing the other lads tell stories from their careers.
In the suites you then get a chance to speak to supporters young and old and I love that as well, it makes you feel really proud to be part of the Rangers family. I’ve also been fortunate to travel roundthe world going to different supporters clubs and the passion all the fans have for Rangers is just incredible.
Youth Players At Ibrox
Having watched Rangers progress through the lower divisions back to the Premiership one of the best players to who stood out to me was Fraser Aird.
Lewis Macleod also did very well before he left but Aird played in those seasons like an oldstyle winger who can took on opponents and he has a bit of pace like a Willie Johnston or Willie Henderson.
You don’t get that so much these days but Aird excited me when he was in those positions because he is fast and he can score goals which is very important when you play in the wide areas of the pitch.