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Brian John McClair (born 8 December 1963, Bellshillmarker, Scotlandmarker) is a former Scottish international football player who played as a forward, notable for his near eleven-year spell at Manchester United, as well as important tenures at Scottishmarker clubs Celtic and Motherwell. He was nicknamed "Choccy", as his last name rhymed with the delicacy "Chocolate Eclair".

McClair is currently Manchester United's youth academy director.

Biography

Playing career

He began his career with Aston Villa on leaving school in 1980, but left after one season (in which Villa were Football League champions) having never played a competitive game.

He then returned to Scotlandmarker and signed for Motherwell scoring 15 league goals in two seasons before £100,000 fee took him to Celtic. In four seasons with Celtic, he made 145 league appearances and scored 99 goals. In the 1986–87 season, he scored 35 goals in 44 league appearances and won both the Scottish Football Writers' Association Player of the Year and the Scottish Players' Player of the Year awards.

He is best remembered, however, for his time at Manchester United. He joined them for £850,000 in July 1987 — despite Celtic initially wanting £2million for him, a fee which would have made him the most expensive player at the time to have signed for any British club.

In 11 years at Old Traffordmarker, he made a total of 468 appearances and scored 126 goals in all competitions. In later years, as his first team opportunities were reduced, McClair became somewhat of a cult hero at United due to his 'Choccy's Diary' being published in the official 'Manchester United' magazine.

In his first season for Manchester United he scored 24 league goals, becoming the first United player to surpass 20 league goals in one season since George Best in the 1967–68 season. His goals were a key factor in United finishing second in the Football League First Division, though champions Liverpool had won the title with a nine-point margin and United never really looked like catching them.

He was on the winning side at United triumphed 1–0 over Crystal Palace in the cup final replay at Wembleymarker on 17 May 1990, five days after drawing 3–3 in the first match. In the league, however, it had been a disappointing time for McClair as he scored just five goals and United finished 13th — their lowest finish since they were relegated from the top flight 16 years earlier. He did however score the winning goal for United in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup against Red Star Belgrade.

In October 1990, McClair was involved in controversy when in reaction to a late challenge he repeatedly kicked Nigel Winterburn in the back as he lay prone on the ground, sparking a 21 man brawl. Manchester United had a point deducted for this, and Arsenal (who went on to be league champions that season) had two points docked.

He won 30 caps for his native Scotland, and scored two goals. He also represented his country during the 1992 European Championships and score one goal. His final international appearance was in 1993.

In the 1992 League Cup final, he scored the only goal of the game against Nottingham Forest, and scored another cup final goal in the 1994 FA Cup final (having come on as a substitute), this time against Chelsea when Manchester United won 4–0.

McClair was the main striker for United during his first season, and then partnered Mark Hughes when he returned from Barcelona, but switched to midfield when Eric Cantona joined United in November 1992. When Roy Keane was signed the following summer, McClair's first team opportunities became increasingly limited.

But he agreed to stay on at United as a squad player, providing reliable cover in midfield and attack and making over 40 appearances (in the first eleven or as a substitute) in 1994–95. He was still trucking along in 1996–97, and on the first day of the season, he was credited with an assist for David Beckham spectacular goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon. However, this was his only notable contribution to the team that season and at the end of 1997–98, he was given a free transfer to complete his playing days elsewhere.

His honours with Manchester United are as follows:

McClair accepted an offer to return to Motherwell, where he spent six months.

Management/Coaching

McClair returned to the south of the border in December 1998 to become Brian Kidd's assistant at Blackburn Roversmarker. But he was unable to prevent Blackburn from slipping out of the Premiership and within a year he had been sacked. He returned to Old Trafford as a youth team coach soon afterwards.

Ironically, when Kidd first joined Blackburn after being assistant manager at Manchester United, McClair was one of several high profile names to be linked with the assistant manager's vacancy at Old Traffordmarker, as was former team mate Steve Bruce Wigan Manager at this point.

In 2001 he was appointed as Reserve Team manager, and promptly won the Reserve League in his first season as coach. In his second season, he was in charge of the Under-19 team which clinched the 2003 FA Youth Cup. Some players from that team, like David Jones, Chris Eagles and Kieran Richardson have gone on to make appearances in the first team.

At the end of the 2004–05 season the first team finished trophyless, but the Reserve Teams headed by Ricky Sbragia won an unprecedented quadruple of the Pontins' Holidays League, the FA Premier Reserve League, The Pontins' Holidays League Cup and the Premier Reserve League Playoff. Their quest for an unprecedented five trophies was thwarted when they lost to Manchester City in the Manchester Senior Cup.

After a year of shadowing Les Kershaw, Manchester United's then academy director Brian replaced him at the start of the 2006–07 season, and is now the new Director of Manchester United's youth academy, of which his son, Liam, was once a member.

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