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In the name of the father

Dougie Freedman senior is at least closer to hand.

Dougie Freedman left Glasgow when he was 16Photograph: Getty
Dougie Freedman left Glasgow when he was 16Photograph: Getty

He only needs to jump into his car and drive from Glasgow to Bolton to watch the team managed by his son, Dougie, instead of the plane journey it used to take to visit London to see Crystal Palace in action.

"I don't know if that's a good or bad thing," Freedman junior says, suddenly, "because on Saturday night you get, 'you should have done this and that'." It matters to Freedman, though, because his entire domestic career has been spent in England and he feels his work has never been carried out in front of his family.

Glasgow is the type of city that tends to not leave people. Freedman moved to London when he was 16 to join Queen's Park Rangers. Despite offers from Celtic and Motherwell during his playing career, and other than one of his two Scotland caps coming against Latvia at Hampden (Freedman scored in a 2-1 victory in 2001), he has never returned to the city in his professional life.

He can recall sitting rapt as a boy while his father and four uncles talked about football at the kitchen table, discussing the likes of Jock Stein, Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith, Archie Knox, and how the game should be played.

Dougie senior was a highly-regarded defender in the junior ranks, mostly with Petershill, and his opinion still counts, at least to his son. It is that connection, with Glasgow and Scotland, which partly explains Freedman's presence in his home city last week. He sat the first of his qualifications in England, and even spent time early in his coaching career watching how Italian clubs train, but Freedman wants to complete his exams on the Scottish Football Association's acclaimed course. He feels a sense of national pride in its reputation for excellence, but also considers it the best way to further his career. In truth, though, this lifelong Rangers fan also has a long-standing desire to work in Scotland.

"I just want to put something back into the place where I grew up," he says. "That might be next week or in 10 or 20 years, but hopefully the time will come. It didn't quite come as a player and it's something inside that doesn't sit right with me. I will never forget my roots."

Freedman can be an intense figure, especially when he is working. Training sessions are timed to the minute and he believes discipline should be applied to every endeavour. That comes from his nature, a mixture of curiosity and determination, but also the time he spent observing training sessions at AC Milan and Palermo.

He describes people who choose a career in football management as "crazy", but then his playing career was never straightforward either. He still regrets leaving Crystal Palace for Wolves in 1997, since he spent only one season at Molineux after moving, for the only time in his career, to make more money. It was at Palace that Freedman established his reputation and became a cult hero among the fans. They still revere him for the vital goals he scored, his commitment during two spells of administration and the work he did as assistant manager to Paul Hart, then George Burley, before saving the team from relegation in his first season as manager.

It remains a strange move then for Freedman abruptly leave Palace for Bolton, particularly with his former club challenging for promotion and his current team still recovering from last season's relegation. "It was a big decision," he says. "It was difficult to leave the Crystal Palace fans because I had a bond with them that probably no other player had. But there were circumstances there that meant I felt I needed to move on. The challenge of taking Bolton forward was too big; I have a burning desire to get to the Premiership and this was an opportunity I couldn't refuse.

"It's not money I manage Bolton for. I have four young kids to take to school every day. I would love to pick them up every day, but I have a desire and ambition to be the best coach I can be. The aim, of course, is to get to the Premiership one day, but you can never put a timescale on that in football."

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