For 18 years, Andy Roxburgh has anchored UEFA’s technical department and has transformed football education in Europe and beyond. Andy has the rare capacity to see the big picture - élite and grassroots, Champions League and children’s football. In his capacity as UEFA’s Technical Director, he has shaped and defined the coaching profession for the benefit of thousands of volunteers and professionals in all corners of our continent. But let’s start properly, back in the 1970s.
Andy Roxburgh and Sir Alex Ferguson were team-mates at Falkirk FC – two men laying promising foundations for a future in the game. Following his retirement as a player in 1975, Andy was appointed as the Scottish Football Association's Technical Director. Then, on 1 July 1986, Andy was appointed as Scotland’s national team manager - a role he would remain in for more than seven years, and which saw Scotland qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the 1992 UEFA European Football Championship final round.
It was in 1994 that Andy joined UEFA as the European body’s first Technical Director. His first mission was to lead a specific coach education expert group, and to set up the framework for a UEFA Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Coaching Qualifications to help further raise the standards of the game in Europe - not only to protect the coaching profession, but also to counter the liberalisation threats coming from the European authorities. Minimum criteria for the different levels of coach education were worked out, and the successful outcome is that all 53 member associations are today part of the Convention. Based on the Convention’s principles, Andy also initiated the UEFA Grassroots Charter to stimulate the associations to further invest in the basis of the game and to acknowledge the importance of healthy grassroots: "No roots – no flowers – no future”. Over the years, Andy led his division with charisma and class, and took care of the different technical target groups, created special events for them and became UEFA’s spokesman with regards to technical matters.
The Grassroots Charter and the European Coaching Convention are just two of the monuments that are part of Andy’s UEFA legacy, and of our football culture. Far too young to enjoy retirement, his career will now take a different direction, with new challenges ahead. In the presence of numerous eminent coaches, Andy was officially honoured in style at the UEFA National Team Coaches Conference in Warsaw this week.