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Well-travelled Teale will pick brains of Jewell and Clough

GARY TEALE is the embodiment of the maxim that things can happen quickly in football.

On Saturday, following the final game of the season, the St Mirren winger stood in front of the media and admitted he had no idea what would happen next. Teale was out of contract and there had been no noises about an extension. Manager Danny Lennon's future was also uncertain. These were troubling times.

Fast forward a few days and Teale found himself again talking to the press but this time from an entirely different perspective. Lennon had gone, his contract not renewed. Tommy Craig, his erstwhile assistant, had become the manager, and Teale not only had a new contract but had also, along with Jim Goodwin, been appointed player-coach. From a basis of fearing he was on the brink of being unemployed, the former Scotland cap quickly learned he would be having not one job but two.

The decision by Craig to appoint Teale was not taken on a whim. The 35-year-old, sensing his playing days were gradually coming to an end, had volunteered his services earlier in the season to David Longwell, St Mirren's head of youth, and was given the responsibility of looking after the under-20 side. This latest promotion, he feels, is a continuation of that.

"Nothing surprises you in football and this has been like a whirlwind," he said. "It was only on Tuesday that I found out. Things move quickly in this game. It's like when you move as a player - things seem to happen like a click of the finger.

"I was going down the coaching route anyway by taking the under-20 side. So it's a natural progression for me. When Tommy said he saw me continuing to play as well, I agreed because I'll be getting the best of both worlds.

"Obviously, I'll have to try and balance the playing and coaching. It's new to me but I'll learn. I'm confident that I'll be able to do it."

Teale has played for Clydebank, Ayr United, Wigan Athletic, Derby County, Plymouth Argyle, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday and won 13 caps for Scotland along the way. He hopes to put his bumper contacts book to good use. "I'll speak to other people in the game who have been in this position before," he added. 'I'll pick their brains. Paul Jewell was one of the biggest influences on me, as was Nigel Clough who I worked with at Derby. There's also Walter Smith and Alex McLeish who I worked with in the national team. I can go to them for help when required.

"And Tommy himself has been in the game a long time. This gives me the chance to pick his brains on a daily basis. At my age, I think I have good enough experience to take this step. Hopefully in the future, I'll have the opportunity to become a manager in my own right."

One of Teale's first duties might be an awkward one. St Mirren have a raft of players out of contract and he will have say in which of his team-mates are kept on. "I'll have an input now on whether players are offered new contracts. Myself and Jim aren't here as yes men and Tommy's all for that. He'll make the decisions as manager but we'll have an opinion."

Teale dismissed the idea that Craig's appointment means more of the same. "Tommy has great know­ledge and he has his own philosophy on how we should be playing football. I think we'll be more dynamic, with more legs in the team, which will allow us to get forward quicker."

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