SCOTT McGleish, a delegate liaison officer for the Professional Footballers’ Association, has played alongside England captain Harry Kane. Tony Dewhurst talks to the former Wycombe Wanderers and Leyton Orient striker who has scored goals throughout his career and is still going strong at 46 for non-league Edgware Town.
Scott made his professional debut at Leyton Orient in March 1995, during the first of four spells at Brisbane Road, and went on to travel a path around the lower-division clubs of Southern England.
“Football has changed beyond recognition since then, and we now live in the world of instant social media where a footballer has to be squeaky clean.
What hasn’t changed, however, is the great desire and mind-set you need to succeed as a professional.
One day, at Leyton Orient, a skinny 17-year-old arrived from Tottenham Hotspur on loan.
Nobody knew anything about this lad called Harry Kane, but he was a polite and humble young man, keen to learn.
He had a great thirst for football knowledge, wanting to talk to all the lads about how he could improve.
It was a tough environment, men’s football.
He discovered what three points meant to the players, or the possible consequences for a manager under pressure of getting the sack if you didn’t get a result.
Harry’s attitude was brilliant – he came in and gave it everything.
“I could see then that he was completely dedicated to his craft and everything Harry’s done since is down to him.
“A few years later I was at PFA dinner and Harry Kane had picked up the PFA Young Footballer of the Year prize.
“He was a superstar by then, but as I passed his table he said: ‘Hi Scott, how are you?
He was still that same likeable, humble human being.
‘We talked and I asked him if he could sign a Spurs shirt to raffle off for a charity.
“Sure enough, a few days later the shirt arrived at my front door, thanks to Harry’s kindness.
You have to make an unswerving dedication to be a footballer – like James Milner at Liverpool - and through all the people I’ve met in football I couldn’t think of a better role model for a youngster than Harry Kane.’
Scott, could you explain about your role within the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“I look after League One and Two clubs in the south, and the delegate is a link between the players and the PFA.
“You build up a strong bond between the manager and staff and if there are any disputes, I have to try and iron them out. ‘Also, on the flip side, if the player is in the wrong, I have to tell him.
“Hopefully the players earn enough money never to work again, but the likelihood is that won’t be the case so it’s trying to get them to think about life after football, maybe opening up a little business while they are still earning.
“It could be plumbing, electrician, lorry drivers, working on the railways or taxi drivers.
“That’s where the union comes in, because anything like that then the PFA can help.
When I retired from professional football the PFA part-funded a course for me to re-train as an electrician.
“The PFA is the flag-ship union of football and we are trying to let them know that their union can do so much for them if they are in need.
The PFA have their own welfare team, so phone us up and it is all private.
‘Sometimes I stand in front of players, explaining about drug awareness protocols or mental health awareness, and there’s few questions.
“Then, an hour later, my ‘phone will ring, and it is a player from that group who needs urgent advice, but he didn’t want to reveal that in front of his team-mates.
‘Nobody will ever know about it other than the person and the counsellor, and the PFA have counsellors all over the country waiting to help people with issues and concerns.
Remember that the PFA is your union for life, and you can still access help, say for a knee replacement, if you were a member previously.
Scott, you scored in this season’s FA Cup for Edgware Town, playing as a centre-half. Have you a favourite memory from your long professional career.
‘Drawing Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round when I was at Leyton Orient in 2011.
“The chairman promised us a trip to Las Vegas if we got a replay.
“I was a huge Arsenal fan and I sneaked out of a Christening to watch the draw on TV and I couldn’t believe it when we landed the Gunners.
‘All my family and friends were at the tie, and it looked like we were beaten until Jonathan Tehoue scored a dramatic late equaliser.
We ran towards where the chairman was sat with our arms out wide, making aeroplane gestures.
‘Leyton Orient lost the replay 5-0 but I got to play at the Emirates Stadium, a dream for any Arsenal fan, and we got our trip to Las Vegas.
‘I just love playing football - it’s just pure enjoyment for me.
‘I started at Edgware Town, just for fun.
‘I managed to have an incredibly enjoyable career as a professional, totally loved every second of it, and I’ve gone back to where I started at Edgware.
‘It’s not about the money at Edgware because nobody gets paid.
‘In fact, we pay them because if you get booked you’ve got to pay up!
The wife keeps saying to me: ‘Any chance you’re going to give up?
I think she’d like us to have Saturdays together, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.