Scottish stats man was Mexico’s secret weapon in Brazil

Meet the Scot who got further in the World Cup than England, Spain and Italy!

A former St Mirren coach who played for Forfar and Queen’s Park, helped Mexico record wins over Croatia and Cameroon to reach the last 16 in Brazil.

Austin MacPhee, 35, compiled detailed scouting reports of the Central American country’s opponents for manager Miguel Herrera.

While Herrera ultimately wasn’t able to see Mexico through to the quarter-finals for the first time in 28 years, MacPhee’s experience has left him determined to become a boss in his own right.

Currently part of Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill’s backroom staff, he became the youngest-ever manager to lead his team out at Hampden when he took Cupar Hearts to the Scottish Amateur Cup Final aged just 27.

“I have my own business, AM sportstours, but one day will look to sell the company to pursue my ambition to be a manager,” he said.

“The World Cup work for Mexico actually came about through a job offer I got to be Galeana’s head coach in the Mexican Championship.

“An agent there came across some match analysis of mine online, compiled for St Mirren back when I was one of Danny Lennon’s assistants.

“Through that I was asked to go to Mexico City for an interview. It went really well and I got offered the job. Unfortunately, before I could take up the position, Galeana were bought over and the new owners wanted to go another way.

“One of the interview panel had been impressed by my work and he suggested to the Mexican Federation that I be invited to come and scout for them at the World Cup which they did.

“I was amazed but delighted at the same time. The World Cup is the highest level and it has given me the confidence that anything is possible.”

Analysis is a growing part of the modern game.

“We basically study how teams play and, where possible, highlight weaknesses which might be exploited,” he said.

“To put it in boxing terms, you might suggest a fighter who doesn’t defend the left side of his face might be vulnerable to a right hook, but you then have to assess if this is your strength.

“I have done international work as part of my job with Northern Ireland but to go and work at a World Cup in Brazil was an incredible experience.

“In the media build-up to the Finals the focus was very negative I don’t think that was fair to Brazil. I have been all over: I did a scholarship in America and spent four years playing in Japan, and there are pros and cons wherever you go.

“My sports tour company had 600 kids and their families over and they had a fantastic experience.”

The same could not be said for Brazil’s campaign.

“One of the fascinating things about the Cup has been the difference between European and South American countries,” he said.

“Generally speaking, the South Americans are more open, more emotional and less well-organised and we certainly saw that for ourselves in Germany’s 7-1 win over Brazil in the semi-final. Like my trip overall, it was just incredible.”