PHILIPPE CLEMENT has thanked Gordon Strachan for volunteering his babysitting services during their time together at Coventry City.
The new Ibrox gaffer, who has taken over from axed Michael Beale who didn’t last a year in the job, has recalled his days in the Midlands and his debt to the former Celtic manager and his wife Lesley.
Clement, a centre-back in his playing days, spent only 12 months at Highfield Road and made only 16 first-team appearances due to a succession of injuries during the 1998/99 season.
However, the 49-year-old Belgian has never forgotten the support from Strachan Strachan during his quickfire spell in English football.
I’M IN CHARGE…Gordon Strachan during his days as Coventry City manager.
Clement, who has also managed SV Beveren, Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco, said: “I had a lot of problems at Coventry.
“The week before the season started, I broke my cheekbone in a friendly game in Wales. I was out for three or four months. I came back and then this big fella Emile Heskey landed on my back and I had a back injury for a long time. I lost a lot of time there.
“But he [Strachan] was really nice with us. His wife also. My son at that moment was really small, I think he was around five years old. His wife really liked him. So in moments the gaffer said to me: ‘If you want to go out with your wife, go to the movies, your boy can stay with us’.
“So we did it a few times. He was our babysitter. They were really, really nice people. That support for my family at that time was really important for us.
“The experience was good, for sure, as a player and also as a person.”
Strachan spent four years as team chief at Parkhead and won three successive titles, two Scottish Cups and two League Cups. The ex-Scotland international midfielder also led the side to the knock-out rounds of the Champions League two back-to-back occasions.
But Clement stressed he will NOT be seeking advice from his one-time boss and babysitter.
CROWNING GLORY…Gordon Strachan with his triumphant Celtic players following the title success in 2008.
The new Govan gaffer, speaking to The Herald, added: “I don’t think you need to look too much to the past or to ask too many things.
“I know the Old Firm, I know the story and I have seen these games. I know players who have played here.
“I know Thomas Buffel really well and also Joos Valgaeren. I played with both in the national team. I know the story so there is nothing new for me.”
Clement will take charge of the team for the first time against Hibs at Ibrox tomorrow afternoon as he attempts to claw back the champions’ seven-point advantage after only eight games.
Brendan Rodgers will take his players to Tynecastle 24 hours later for the meeting with Hearts.