• Sir Rod Stewart. Former Scotland manager Craig Brown, CBE, talks football in a World Sport Exclusive to Andrew  Atkinson.

SIR ROD Stewart’s love affair with football began over half a century ago – when his dad Bob took him to watch Scotland against England at Hampden Park in 1964.

Scotland beat England 1-0. And the seeds of football were planted into Celtic supporter Sir Rod’s blood.

Little did he know at that time, that the Hampden Park path would one day lead to him training with the Scotland national team – and become good friends of Craig Brown – along with a plethora of football managers and players across the Globe.

“Sir Rod trained with the Scottish team in New Jersey – and we were all invited to his show at Maddison Square Garden, New York,” said Craig.

“Many of the players went up on stage with Sir Rod – while he performed – singing in his Scotland top!,” recalled Craig.

Sir Rod, 74, who first played at Madison Square Garden in the seventies, said: “Madison Square Garden was a great evening.”

Sir Rod, on record as saying that he would like some of his ashes scattered at Hampden Park, added: “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”.

Craig, 79, in charge of the Scotland national team during 1993-2001, recalled the day Sir Rod contacted him, ahead of the Celtic versus Blackburn Rovers European Cup tie at Ewood Park in 2002.

PLaying football with dad
PLaying football with dad

“At the time I was manager at Preston North End and I received a call from Sir Rod, asking if I could recommend somewhere he could dine (away from Blackburn) and I arranged a dining place in Preston,” recalled Craig.

“I went to Woolworths on Fishergate, Preston, and purchased a dozen Rod Stewart CDs – and got him to sign them!,” said Craig, Scotland’s most successful manager.

After dining, Sir Rod Stewart jumped into his chauffeur driven limousine, and headed to Ewood Park to watch the Rovers versus Celtic tie.

“Billy Davies (assistant manager at Preston) and I sat with Sir Alex Ferguson at the match, while Rod was just sitting along from us,” said Craig.

Another football memory is Sir Rod so emotionally taken aback – after Celtic’s win against Barcelona in a Champions League tie in 2012 – he burst into tears.

Speaking about the Champions League 2-1 win against Barcelona, Sir Rod said: “It meant that much to me. It was about me and Celtic – and my dad – I was full of pride, and it overcame me.”

Sir Rod’s father Robert, who died in 1990, used to take him to watch Arsenal – and Scotland – as a kid in the early years, inaugurating him into The Tartan Army.

Sir Rod was sailing on a cruiseliner this weekend (July 20) in France with his wife, model Penny Lancaster, star of ITV’s ‘Loose Women’ programme, relaxing after his British summer concert tour – with the Celtic Bhoys Crest on the liner.

“Sir Rod has the Celtic Crest on his drums when playing in concert. He’s a good guy,” said Craig.

*NEXT week reporter Andrew Atkinson continues Sir Rod Stewart’s love affair with football, with his wife, model Penny Lancaster, also a Celtic fan; along with Craig Brown’s memoirs. ONLY in the Costa Blanca and Costa Calida Leader.