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NEWLY appointed Scotland manager Steve Clarke is using Shelley Kerr as motivation as he attempts to qualify for a major tournament.
The former Kilmarnock boss has taken over from Alex McLeish, who left in April after an embarrassing Euro 2020 qualifying campaign culminated in a 3-0 defeat to world-ranked 117 nation Kazakhstan.
The Tartan Army have not tasted an international major tournament since the 1998 World Cup and in that time have seen Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland reach the latter stages of World Cups and European Championships.
With Kerr’s Scotland preparing for the Women’s World Cup in France next month, Clarke sees it as “motivation” for him to do the same with the men’s side.
“I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament,” Clarke said.
“Now we have a Women’s World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it’s my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to Euro 2020.
“I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month.”
Clarke won both the PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association Manager of the Year Awards for steering Kilmarnock to their highest-placed finish since 1966.
The former West Brom manager has also had spells as coach under Ruud Gullit, Jose Mourinho, Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool respectively.
“It is an honour to be appointed Scotland national head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment,” Clarke said.
“I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.”
The Scottish Football Association added in a statement it was “delighted” to announce Clarke’s appointment.
“Steve joins from Kilmarnock on a three-year contract until the end of the Fifa World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign and was appointed after an extensive recruitment process undertaken by the Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell and endorsed by the board,” the statement said.
Maxwell, himself, said: “I am delighted that we now have the country’s deserved Manager of the Year to lead the Scotland National Team and his experience over the past two decades will be integral to rejuvenating our Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, which resumes next month.
“It was important that we undertook the recruitment process diligently and respectfully, especially given the importance of the final games of the domestic season for Kilmarnock, Steve and his players.”
Kilmarnock confirmed their search for a new manager will start straight away, with director Billy Bowie paying tribute to Clarke and saying he will “always be welcomed back.”
“While we’re naturally disappointed to lose such a talented manager, I understand the lure of managing Scotland is a powerful one,” he said.
“Steve leaves an incredible legacy, delivering our best campaign in over half a century and providing European football for the first time since 2001. His place in this club’s illustrious history is assured and he will always be welcomed back to Rugby Park with open arms.”
Clarke spent 11 years at Chelsea as a defender during his playing career, having started out at St Mirren, and retired after making over 400 appearances for the London club in 1998.
The former right-back, who made six appearances for Scotland between 1987 and 1994, became assistant boss at Newcastle under Gullit, who had been his manager at Stamford Bridge.
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