Alan Hansen announced this week that he will sign off from Match of the Day at the end of the next summer's World Cup.

Which, along with Belgium visiting Hampden last night, prompted the thought: what of the other great Hansen?

John Hansen has long lived in the shadow of his younger brother, though older Partick Thistle fans would soon put you right about that. While Alan, oozing skill, left Firhill for Liverpool in 1977, brother John, all grit and phenomenal engine, stayed put and played 300-plus games for the club.

How many Scottish footballers in the history of the game could boast of having highers in Latin and Greek? John Hansen did. He made his Thistle debut aged 17 while still at school and did his paper-round the next day as usual. And he was twice capped by Scotland, the first coming against Belgium at Pittodrie in a 1-0 win in November, 1971.

This Hansen, like his brother, has always had a fairly engaging way of seeing things. "I?¯remember that Belgium game - my first Scotland cap - pretty clearly," says John. "Thistle had not long pulled off their famous League Cup win over Celtic and a few of us got called up into the Scotland squad. I?¯was on the bench that night, and we were a goal up, but coming up against it in the second half. I?¯got an insight into the relationship between Tommy Docherty, the Scotland manager, and Billy Bremner, the captain.

"About 20 minutes into the second half, with the Belgians pressing us, Tommy indicated to Billy that he was going to change things, and put me on. 'No, don't, we'll sort it out here ourselves,' Billy shouted back. And Tommy left it at that.

"My dad was there watching and told me later he was praying that I wouldn't come on. He felt that, if Belgium equalised with me on the pitch, I?¯would carry the blame. But I?¯got on, and we still won 1-0."

To this day, John Hansen is lovingly remembered by the Thistle faithful. "He was very different as a player from Alan," says Robert Reid, the walking compendium on all things Jags. "John was shorter, physically more thick-set, he had a superb engine, and he was very versatile, playing either at right-back or in midfield. What a servant he was to Partick Thistle."

John, now retired and living in Surrey, offered me his own unique take on the differences between himself and Alan. "I?¯remember once we were playing together for Thistle, defending in our congested penalty area, and Alan passed the ball to me. I?¯just hoofed it clear and my brother said to me [disparagingly]: 'what are you doing?' His instinct was to dribble the ball out of defence.

"Alan was an incredibly skilful player. I?¯was different, I?¯was a physical player, a runner with a good engine. But Alan was all skill. Though I?¯used to say to him that he'd get exhausted just crossing the halfway line."

Even in their early school days, there was a hint of what was to come from the gifted Hansen family from Sauchie in Clackmannanshire. Both of the brothers, and a sister, Maureen, were duxes at their school, and both boys accumulated enough highers to go to university, though both opted for professional football.

"Alan was always the tactician, even when he was young," says John. "When we'd go to watch football games together - even juvenile games - I'd go and watch as a punter, but Alan was always analysing games. He would always be pointing out why he thought certain games were going against teams. He could see a game that way. I?¯look back at it all now and see hints of his later career in TV."

John, like Alan, found his footballing home in Maryhill in Glasgow. He showed early promise, was capped that night for Scotland, and might even have had an illustrious career himself in England had injury not intervened.

"I?¯was still at school when I?¯made my Thistle debut. I?¯played in a midweek game against Raith Rovers [on February 28 1968] and then played the following Saturday, when we beat Aberdeen [1-0] at Pittodrie. The next morning, after that match, I?¯did my paper-round as usual.

"I?¯was well established in the Thistle team when I?¯nearly left to go to Manchester United, but it didn't materialise. Tommy Docherty always liked me as a player, and was said to be set to come for me in the mid-1970s, but I?¯injured my knee at the time. Instead, Tommy took Alex Forsyth, Thistle's other full-back.

"I?¯suffered four cartilage injuries in my knees, and did two cruciates. There was no keyhole surgery back then. They patched me up but the truth is, I?¯was never the same player again."

All the while John watched the more skilful Alan's career flourish with Liverpool, in a golden age for the Anfield club. But when it ended in 1991, few realised just how fine a second career the younger Hansen would have, in television.

"Alan always knew what he wanted," says John. "When he retired from playing there was talk that Liverpool might offer him the manager's job, but he went in and told the Liverpool board, 'look, just in case you want to offer me the job . . . don't bother, I'm not interested.'

"Alan is very good at what he does. He can 'read' a football game very well. For all I?¯know, he might have made a good manager, but he never wanted that. My brother was lucky that he got to utilise his two great properties in life: his football skill, and his analysis."

But there is one thing that John will always have over his more illustrious brother - and it is Hampden Park on October 23, 1971. The scoreline in the amazing Scottish League Cup final that day was Partick Thistle 4, Celtic 1. Infamously, with Thistle leading 4-0 at half-time, football fans across Britain thought the TV and radio airwaves had gone barmy.

"It will stay a great memory," says John. "We had just been promoted and Lou Macari said to me on the pitch before kick-off, 'well, you'll still get a runners-up medal.' We were 4-0 up at half-time and the stories are legend about how no-one believed it, they thought the radio stations must be making a mistake.

"When we came out for the second half, I?¯remember the Thistle fans were very quiet, as if they were apprehensive that we could still lose. Davie McParland, our manager at the time, was reported to have said afterwards, 'I?¯was worried that we might still lose 5-4.'

"I?¯mean, this was Jock Stein's Celtic. But we won a famous victory. I?¯still cherish it."