In one of the Celtic manager's favourite stories he recalls how Jimmy Johnstone once led him astray when they were both at Dens Park "He lived life to the full. Unfortunately I lived life to the full with him one day in Dundee and my liver is still recovering." said Gordon of Jinky. And despite maybe learning too many bad habits off the field from the club's senior players Strachan loved every minute of his time in the City of Discovery
"I loved my time at Dundee, I spent about five years laughing." He said "Maybe I enjoyed myself too much there but it was fantastic. I had to look after myself at Dundee. I moved into digs there when I was 15, so I had to grow up there quickly. I had to learn to handle the mistakes I made myself."
"By a Monday morning I had no money left because George Stewart and Bobby Ford use to take all my money off me at the cards. I was 15. I was sent to get the teas on the train - it was not so easy to keep them steady when the train was flying round bends in Auchterarder or wherever. At that age, you are just desperate to be a footballer. You are desperate to survive."
And he did survive, indeed the little flame-haired winger thrived under the Dens Park coaching staff before his move north to become a major part of the best Aberdeen side ever. "I picked up a lot of good habits there from a coach called Hugh Robertson - he had been a left-winger for Dundee and he was fantastic. So I got good coaching there, too. I watched a lot of good players there - Jocky Scott, Gordon Wallace, John Duncan, Dougie Houston - it was a fantastic place and I picked up a lot of good habits. My off-field habits weren't as good as my on-field habits, but they got better as I moved up north to Aberdeen."
His former team-mate Jocky Scott will be at the helm when Dundee visit Celtic Park today for the fourth round tie of the Homecoming Scottish Cup and Strachan is looking forward to seeing his old friend "I modelled myself a lot on guys like Jocky and Gordon Wallace the current Director of Youth Football at Dundee." said the Celtic boss "Jocky was a good first-touch player, a decent goal-scorer, and he linked up well with people. Jocky knew his way around a football field, he knew where to find people. His partnership with Gordon Wallace was excellent."
Although Dundee are plying their trade in the First Division of the SFL these days there is no chance that the Celtic manager will underestimate his old club only two years after losing to Clyde at the same stage of the competition. Inevitably that game will be mentioned at the first Scottish Cup pre-match press conference every year that boss Strachan remains at the helm and he knows it will always haunt him "It's just one of those things you have to live with." He said "Luckily, some other good things have happened which have masked it a bit. There have been cup shocks over the years, I've been involved in a few and I don't think it came down to underestimating a team - it was just circumstances. Sometimes a team can play fantastically well and other times a team can be unlucky. That's why you get cup shocks, but we won't underestimate Dundee."
The manager also confirmed that Shunsuke Nakamura is available for selection today, despite the reported injury to his abductor muscle. "As the doctor says, remember we are dealing here with Nakamura." said Strachan "We thought we might not see him until next week but he has been training for two days. He has attuned his body that well, there is a flexibility and an elasticity about his body which not many other people have."