MY old man once said there were only two people he wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of; God, and Joe Jordan. There was no question over who he worshipped more.

The former Scotland, Leeds United and Manchester United legend has sadly recently said goodbye to someone he himself held in such high esteem, a man whose career often ran parallel to his own, Gordon McQueen.

As well as the pain over his best friend finally succumbing to the vascular dementia that so cruelly ravaged his body and robbed us all of such a force of a nature, there is a righteous fury to Jordan’s assessment of the latter stages of McQueen’s life, and a barely disguised contempt for those within football who were posted missing in his own and his family’s hour of need.

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The player’s union and the game’s governing bodies have readily offered promises and platitudes when it comes to addressing the growing issue of dementia among former footballers, a debilitating condition they are at least five times more likely to suffer from than the general public. But offers of help for the McQueen family were, he says, thinner on the ground.

“Something more has to be done, but I’m sure this conversation has come up when other people have passed away,” Jordan said.

“The image of Gordon McQueen as a player for Scotland is that he gave it all. And it was the same for his clubs. He would die for his country.

“We talk about Gordon McQueen because everyone knows Gordon McQueen, but other players out there have had a career and find themselves later on in life having similar problems.

“With Gordon, we are talking about a big name. He was someone who was accepted in all of his dressing rooms, and the guys loved him because of his personality. If someone like Gordon can’t get help, what hope do these other players have?

“In the case of Gordon, charities like Marie Curie and Head for Change helped him, and more importantly, the family were always there. They stood up to everything. Yvonne, Gordon’s wife, was 24/7 on that looking after him. The family were incredible.

“But other people who I think had a degree of responsibility didn’t help Gordon. The charities stepped in, and they deserve to be mentioned, rather than those who didn’t do anything. And if that help can’t go to a player like Gordon who is recognised in a Scotland jersey…

“They really didn’t do much. The charities helped as much as they could with the resources they had, but there are other people out there who should have been helping as well.

“Gordon has passed away, and is it going to change now? We’ll see.”

As that hurt and anger subsides, Jordan will remember his great friend as he really was in life. A fabulous centre-half, of course, but also as the heart and soul of any dressing room he walked into.

That was the case even when the pair were gatecrashing a star-studded Leeds United dressing room back in the fledgling stages of their career, two upstarts from Scotland determined to make a name for themselves in what was – at that time – one of Europe’s truly great teams.

“I was at Leeds United maybe a year before Gordon arrived,” he said.

“Leeds were the club that were challenging for everything in that era. Gordon came from St Mirren and I came from Greenock Morton, and when Gordon arrived, we ended up in digs together. That was it for us in the early days as we tried to make our impact at Leeds.

“There were a lot of great players there, and there was incredible professionalism that came from Don Revie.

“That was a big plus for myself and Gordon to learn the game and so many aspects of it, just listening to those players and watching the way they conducted themselves.

“Coming into a dressing room for players arriving at a club - not just young players - it is so important how you address it and how you handle it. If you don’t handle the dressing room, then it can have an impact on your career, how quickly you can progress and show the abilities that you have.

“We would go about it in a different way. Gordon did that by his personality. He was going into a dressing room along with myself where there were big names, people who garnered respect.

“There were people like Jack Charlton, a World Cup winner, and big Jack was a real character. He was a smashing guy, what you saw was what you got from Jack.

“Gordon came into that dressing room and he was great with the one-liners. He was so witty, very sharp.

“Leeds United at that time didn’t bring in many players, it was a team that was consistent, so when there was a player coming in like we were as young guys, you had to know how to handle it and Gordon handled it just by his personality and his character.”

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What also helped McQueen and Jordan acclimatise to Yorkshire was that there was already a proud band of Scots ensconced within Elland Road.

“It was a big plus to have the other Scottish guys in there,” he said.

“There was banter all the time, and Gordon could handle the banter. There was always the Scotland-England thing going on. We had a strong Scottish contingent and there was a good bit of mickey taking going on all the time, but it was good. And it flowed both ways.

“Gordon was a passionate guy about his football, but especially his country. There was a strong feeling for Scotland that never left us. Not Gordon, not me, and not the other ones like Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer and David Harvey.

“That was our group and that was strong, and we had that rivalry with guys like Paul Madeley, Terry Cooper, Norman Hunter – who Gordon had a great partnership with - Alan Clark, Mick Jones.

“It was great for us.”

More on his love of country later. At club level, after establishing themselves and excelling at Leeds United, Jordan and McQueen found themselves in Marbella in the summer of 1975, licking their wounds by the poolside after a hugely controversial European Cup Final defeat to Bayern Munich.

Despite the 2-0 loss, Bayern manager Dettmar Cramer had clearly liked what he saw from Jordan, and made his move to recruit the big striker to the German giants. He hadn’t reckoned though with McQueen, who almost inadvertently threw a spanner in the works.

“This is a true story,” he said. “I had been linked with Bayern Munich, and we had just played them in Paris.

“A call came through for me when we were round the pool. The guy behind the bar said, ‘I have a Dettmar Cramer here wanting to speak to Joe Jordan’. Knowing what that dressing room was like, I thought it was a wind up.

“I said to Gordon that someone was at it and told him to answer it and pretend he was me to just string them along. So, that’s what Gordon did.

“He came back and said, ‘Joe, the boy was quite convincing, he did have the accent and all that’. But Gordon told him that I wouldn’t go to Bayern Munich unless Gordon McQueen came along with me.

“Cramer reminded him that they had (Franz) Beckenbauer and (Hans-Georg) Schwarzenbeck and he was quite happy with that partnership, but he kept insisting they had to take McQueen if they wanted me.

“Cramer actually rang back towards the end of the break and that one came directly into my room, so that’s when I knew it was genuine. He said they were going to make a bid, so when we got back, I went to Elland Road and asked if Bayern had made a bid for me. They wouldn’t accept it, which I wasn’t too happy with.

“But thankfully, it wasn’t Gordon’s influence on the discussions that killed the deal.”

The misunderstanding didn’t sour the friendship, and each took on the duties of best man at the other’s weddings.

“I got married first and I knew I had to follow him doing my speech, and I don’t know how I got through it because you could never match his one-liners,” Jordan said.

“I’m sure I kept it pretty calm and cool and then just got out of there, because you couldn’t match Gordon, no chance!”

So, while Munich wasn’t to be, Manchester soon came calling for the pair, with a resurgent United first recruiting Jordan and then his pal McQueen in 1978, seeing more value in that package than Cramer ultimately did.

“It didn’t go down well with the Leeds United fans,” he said. “I went and then Gordon followed me about a month after.

“People assume that I was influential in that, but I wasn’t. Dave Sexton made an offer for me and that went through pretty quickly, but for Gordon, he just wanted to go to Manchester United.

“They were, and are, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and Gordon wanted to play for Manchester United.”

As Jordan explains, McQueen also wanted to show the Old Trafford crowd that he belonged in such an arena, and quickly became something of a cult hero for his marauding runs out from the back.

“Sometimes he did get carried away breaking out, trying to beat a couple of players and playing the killer ball, but that was Gordon,” he said.

“He was a centre-back, but he wanted to express himself. He wanted to prove that he could be a Manchester United player, that he could excel for a club of that size. And he did.”

While pulling on that red jersey filled McQueen with pride, nothing could compare with the feeling he got in pulling on the dark blue of his country, something he did with distinction on 30 occasions.

“It was the ultimate,” Jordan said.

“Playing for your country, that is the biggest prize. That applied to me, and that applied to Gordon.

“He wanted to be a Scotland player, he wanted to get in that team and prove he belonged there. And he did that. I know that was the highlight of his career to play for his country.

“That is what you strive for, to prove yourself at the highest level in club football so that you have a prize, and that prize is to play for your country.

“You look at his funeral last week with the Scotland flag and his cap [on his coffin] and the piper. That was Gordon.”

McQueen was selected for two World Cups, in 1974 and 1978, though injury ultimately rendered the long journey to Argentina a futile one. He scored five times in his 30 caps, and his famous goal against England in 1977 meant just as much to him as it did to the tens of thousands of Scots who subsequently tore Wembley asunder.

Before Scotland took on Georgia in June, Hampden had its chance to thank him for his contribution, with the national stadium rising as one in spine-tingling tribute to one of the national side’s most beloved players.

 “It shows the regard he was held in,” said Jordan. “We all remember the great goal he scored at Wembley with the header, when we won and the crowd went crazy.

“The ovation that Gordon got at Hampden when his picture came up on the screen, it wasn’t just for that goal. When Gordon played for Scotland, he gave it his all. He gave everything he had to win that game, and I think that is what the reception meant.

“The crowd realised that when Gordon McQueen played for Scotland, he gave it everything he had.

“It is a reflection on him as a player, but also as a person.”

To underline his great friend’s point, McQueen continued to give it his all right to the end. And that, ultimately, is how he will be remembered.