IT was supposed to be just a matter of time. The new Scottish wonder kid following in the footsteps of his Celtic legend grandfather – Kevin Gallacher’s career had already been mapped out.

The diminutive teenager had different ideas though as he looked to carve out a name for himself in his own right, a determination that left Celtic’s 10-year chase ultimately futile as he opted instead for less glamorous clubs like Dundee United, Coventry City and then Blackburn Rovers.

Growing up in Clydebank as the youngest of six siblings, Gallacher’s family life was centred around football, namely Celtic, after his late grandfather Patsy left a lasting legacy during his 15-year career with the Scottish giants between 1915 and 1926.

A roll of honour that includes seven league titles, four Scottish Cups and four Glasgow Cups sees Patsy still regarded as one of the all-time greats at the proud Parkhead club.

So when a young Kevin was attracting a host of scouts while playing for junior club Duntocher in the late 1970s, Celtic were leading the chase and his next move seemed almost inevitable.

Not so. As, with his grandad’s words of wisdom still ringing in his ears, Gallacher junior turned his back on his boyhood heroes and followed his head to sign schoolboy forms with Dundee United aged just 13.

The chase didn’t stop there though as Celtic continued to monitor the then midfielder but, at 16, Gallacher signed professional forms with Dundee United to signal the start of a remarkable career.

Celtic continued to make themselves known to Gallacher throughout his 20s but, as he started a new life in England, he was not about to turn back.

He said: “I have heard so many stories about my granddad that you feel he has always been there. I have grown up without grandparents, but with the legacy he had, I have found it tough because I wasn’t Kevin Gallacher as a kid.

“My dad was the son of Patsy and when I started into football I was the grandson of the legend that was Patsy. In Scotland I never made a name for myself, until I came down to England to play. It was only then I made my own title.

“My grandpa made a statement to the boys in the family and it was if you want to make a name for yourself don’t ever play for Celtic. Because you won’t be yourself, you will be regarded as how I play.

“In hindsight, I would have loved to play for Celtic – and I could have done up until 25, 26 years of age. But I had so many other challenges ahead of me, I found these challenges were better than to go back to Scotland to play for Celtic.

“I wanted to do it for myself and every headline I made at Dundee United I was not Kevin Gallacher. It was a bit annoying really but that is what you are seen as. In one way I was glad to come out of Scotland and make my own name.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing in his early years though as he fought against his size, homesickness and his family name during a two year apprenticeship at Tannadice that threatened to end the dream almost before it had begun.

But, just as the doubts started to creep in, he was given his debut as a 20-minute substitute in Europe before making his full debut in front of 50,000 at Ibrox just three days later. A star was born.

“It was very slow progression,” he said. “I was very small and frail. I was just over nine stone and about 5ft 4ins. I was a very slow maturer. I had a few doubts but they just made more determined. Being little just gave me a bigger fight to fight.

“There was a player at 16 playing in the first team, Gordon McLeod. He had matured physically. You are sitting in the digs with him and that gave you the inspiration because you knew you would get your chance in the first team.

“Those two years as an apprentice were boring for me. I was still like a 12-year-old kid in a 16-year-old mind. I never got a chance, was always jobs" target="_blank">training with the reserves.

“It was also very hard moving away from Clydebank. We were all in separate digs and unfortunately for me the digs were freezing. We were sleeping in tracksuits and I wasn’t happy.

“I was visiting my uncle, who was a local journalist, once a week and I didn’t realise he was telling the manager everything I was saying. It helped me in a way because it got me out of the digs.

“ I went to stay with my Uncle and paid him dig money. I was under pressure because I had family looking after me. I couldn’t muck around as much as the others. But with the family looking after me it gave me a massive focus and massive help.”

Gallacher signed professional terms with the Tannadice outfit the summer of 1983, after they had won the Scottish Premier League and, in his eight years with them, he experienced the highs and lows of top flight football.

A UEFA Cup final and two Scottish Cup finals, as well as challenging for the league title every season, gave him the perfect platform to hone his skills as he learnt from a host of Scotland’s greatest players.

He said: “The team I was brought up on was phenomenal. Ralph Milne was the player I replaced. To be fair I was more or less resigned to backing him up for the whole of my career because he was a phenomenal player.

“They were a successful team, and Ralph was only four years older than me. Ralph had gone on the alcohol though and it opened the gap up for me, he went off the rails and that was my opportunity., “I stayed on the straight and narrow and focused on that side of it. I never looked back until the season I was leaving.

“Malpas, Stark, Hegarty, Nairy, Milne, Sturrock, Dodds, Ferguson- there were so many top quality players.”

Still a youngster trying to make a name for himself, one of Gallacher’s earliest career highlights was scoring a goal that helped his Dundee side see off Barcelona on their way to the UEFA Cup final in 1987.

It was quickly down to earth with a bump for him though as he was dropped for the cup final defeat against IFK Goteburg, having also been left out of the side for their shock Scottish Cup final defeat to St Mirren that same season.

He said: “The mainstay was the Barcelona games. You started thinking about things because it was Barcelona and they are a massive name all over the world. To draw them was phenomenal because Terry Venables was the manager and they had Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker.

“Fortunately for me I scored in the first leg to send us to the Nou Camp 1-0 up. Even to this day there is a massive thing made about it about whether I meant it or not. I’m not sure if I did.

“The St Mirren game hurt me though. I had the belief I was ready for the cup final and when the manager sat me down and said he was going for experience, I didn’t want the team to win. It was horrible.

“It was the biggest downer I had at Dundee United. There was still plenty to play for but at that time you are such a selfish player, at that time I thought I can’t have this. When I was brought on I was probably trying too hard because I wanted to rub it into the manager’s face he had made the wrong decision.”

He finally got his chance on the big stage the following year though when they reached the Scottish Cup final again, this time to meet boyhood club Celtic.

A sensational opener from him even looked to have set up one of Scottish football’s biggest upsets until Frank McAvennie’s double restored parity for Celtic - and more cup final disappointment for Gallacher.

“It was dream come true for me,” he said. “It was against my boyhood heroes and all my friends were in the Celtic end. I was talking to them the night before the game and I was quietly confident we could beat Celtic.

“To score that day was phenomenal and it was an unbelievable goal. I have taken it with my left foot, was racing Roy Aitken at the time, and I have just let fly from 25 yards into the top left hand corner.

“I ran to the corner where my mates told me they would be to celebrate. I think it was the wrong thing and to say you would probably have the FAs on your case for enticing the away crowd now is an understatement.

“I knew what I was doing. I was celebrating for Dundee United but I was going over to wind my mates up.

“As Frank McAvennie says though ‘Kevin Gallacher scored the best goal ever in a cup final but he scored two to spoil the party’.”