IT is perhaps a sign of the average Scot’s lack of self-esteem that our initial reaction to hearing that a stellar name from the world of football is willing to throw in his lot with one of our clubs is one of genuine surprise. “Really?” we tend to cry in unison, eyebrows arching northwards. That was the case on Friday night when Brendan Rodgers was announced as Celtic’s new manager, a continuation of a long list of unexpected arrivals in the Scottish game that also includes Claudio Caniggia signing for Dundee, Paul Gascoigne pitching up at Rangers and George Best turning out for Hibs.

Another who gave cause for a communal double-take was Chris Waddle. One of the most gifted and entertaining English players of his day, Waddle was 35 but still in decent nick when word abounded in the summer of 1996 that he was on the look-out for his next opportunity. He had served his four previous clubs – Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympique Marseille and Sheffield Wednesday – with distinction and just three years earlier had been crowned England’s Player of the Year. A haul of 62 international caps further underlined his pedigree.

News, then, that Waddle had agreed to move to Falkirk was unexpected to say the least. This was a club that had just been relegated from the Scottish Premier League and were showing little sign of recovery early in the campaign, sitting third from bottom of the old First Division come September. They were desperate for something, anything, to lift them from their torpor.

“I tried to sign Superman but he wasn't available,” said former chairman George Fulston at the time. “We are looking for anyone who can put points on the board.”

Few would have thought Waddle would be the solution. But, sure enough, it was true. Neil Binnie, a Falkirk director based down south, had watched Wednesday over the years and decided to chance his arm with an offer to their star winger. He was as surprised as anyone when Waddle agreed to come north on as short-term deal. In the end he would grace Scottish football in only four matches, twice at home against Clydebank and Airdrie, and away matches at St Mirren and East Fife, before Bradford City offered him a deal closer to home. Some two decades later, Waddle still recalls his month-long stint in Scotland fondly.

“A lot of people list all my clubs and miss Falkirk out,” he says. “But I really enjoyed my time there, even though it was short. I had been at Sheffield Wednesday for four years and my contract was coming to an end. I was 35 and had just had a small operation on my ankle so I needed to get fit. Wednesday said I could move on and I was just weighing up a few options when Neil Binnie, who lived in Scunthorpe, rang me up. He asked if I fancied going up to Falkirk for a month. And I looked at it and thought, “Yeah - why not?” I think Neil was actually surprised when I agreed to it.

“I had to look at a map to see where Falkirk was when the deal was first mentioned. But I’d obviously heard of the club. I’ve always been football mad and followed a lot of Scottish football growing up. Obviously coming from the north east it’s just over the border, and I used to look out for Rangers results back then. So I knew the club if not the town.”

Rangers had signed Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup in previous years but Scottish football was still starved of genuine star quality in 1996. Waddle’s temporary move north then, especially to an unfancied club like Falkirk, would prove a huge draw. Such was the crowd that gathered for his introductory press conference at Falkirk’s former Brockville home that there was no room for the star attraction.

“The biggest press conference I ever had in my career was at Falkirk,” he said. “Brockville wasn’t the biggest so they held it in the sponsors’ room which wasn’t massive either. I was at the back of the room and everyone was looking at the front at this little table and chairs set out and wondering where I was, was I coming or was I late or whatever. But I was there. I just couldn’t get through as there were so many people in the room. So I was saying 'excuse me, excuse me' and trying to squeeze through to the front. Eventually I made it. But if there had been Health and Safety that day I think they would have shut us down!”

It is the small details that stick with Waddle to this day. “I remember Brockville and all the shirts hanging up in the stand. And the chairman – what was his name again? George Fulston. That’s right. I used to call him Biffa Bacon [after the Viz character]. The only thing that wasn’t great was the kit at that time, this blue chequered thing. I’ve still got one framed on my wall at home but it wasn’t the best.”

Waddle had no intention of relocating full-time to Scotland, the reason behind his decision to turn down a move to Tommy Burns’ Celtic just the year before.

“The travelling was the only hardship,” he recalled. “I would fly up and someone would pick me up at the airport, we would then train on Thursday and Friday and play on Saturday. I would then drive home to Sheffield after the game. I said to the club, “I’ll just keep the car and drive it back up on the Wednesday night or Thursday”. But the garage wanted the car back. I don’t know why. So they used to send two lads down on the Monday to get it. I could never understand that.”

None of the three Scottish grounds Waddle played in - Brockville, Love Street or old Bayview – are still in existence, the bulldozers moving in once the years had taken their toll. Waddle, though, wasn’t sniffy about having to slum it.

“Brockville was pretty run down but I started my career in non-league so it was still a little bit upmarket compared to some of the grounds I had played at! It didn’t shock me. It wasn’t like I had played in the Premier League all my life and was dropping down for the first time. I remember going to East Fife and the stadium was like a big bowl. When the game finished there was a queue out the door and I realised it was for the two showers in the whole place. But that stuff didn’t bother me.”

Waddle, now a brand ambassador for, speaks as fondly of Falkirk as he does of Marseille, Spurs or Newcastle. He has been following their progress in the Premiership playoffs and hope they can clinch promotion this afternoon.

“It was a nice club and the move worked out well for both parties. I got match fit and they got a lift in their results and some extra publicity, too. I still follow Falkirk’s progress and saw most of the first game against Kilmarnock the other night. They’ve got a real chance of promotion now so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for them.”

- England legend Chris Waddle was speaking on behalf of bettingexpert LIVE, the world's first in-play tipping app available now in the Apple Store. Read Chris' tips for Euro 2016 at