FOOTBALL: Gordon Strachan says Celtic made a mistake by letting Paddy McCourt leave

Pat McCourt pictured in action for N. Ireland, dribbles past Malta's Andre' Schembri in the Ta' Qali National Stadium, Malta.

Pat McCourt pictured in action for N. Ireland, dribbles past Malta's Andre' Schembri in the Ta' Qali National Stadium, Malta.

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Scotland manager, Gordon Strachan has claimed Derry’s Paddy McCourt is one of the most ‘gifted’ footballers he’s ever seen.

And the former Celtic boss suggested the ‘Hoops’ made a mistake by allowing the ex-Derry City winger to leave in 2013.

Strachan’s Scotland side will come up against McCourt, his Notts County teammate, Roy Carroll and the rest of the 27 man N. Ireland squad in a friendly next Wednesday, March 25th - four days before Michael O’Neill’s side play Finland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park.

And Strachan heaped praise on the 31 year-old Shantallow man ahead of that clash at Hampden Park.

“Paddy is as gifted a footballer as I have ever seen,” said Strachan. “Some players can see a pass, but not dribble. Others can dribble, but not see a pass. Paddy can do both.

“And, I have got to say, watching Paddy is one of the best things in football.

“I like him as a fellow, as well,” he continued. “And I’ve known about him almost all of his career because my son, Craig, played with him at Rochdale when he first came over from Ireland.

“Having said all of that, I hope Paddy doesn’t come on against us. I hope he just sits there on the bench.

“But it will be great to meet up with him again because he never caused me any bother at all during my time at Celtic.

“As a matter of fact, he gave me much more pleasure than a lot of others have done, just to watch him play.”

Paddy is as gifted a footballer as I have ever seen. Some players can see a pass, but not dribble. Others can dribble, but not see a pass. Paddy can do both.

Gordon Strachan

Since leaving Celtic, McCourt has represented English Championship clubs, Barnsley and Brighton & Hove Albion. He’s currently on loan at Notts County in League One until the end of the season.