Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell insists Steve Clarke was always the outstanding candidate as national team manager.
Clarke was yesterday unveiled as the Scots’ new boss on a three-year deal, replacing Alex McLeish who was sacked last month following an unsuccessful 14-month stint.
The SFA were widely criticised for their recruitment of McLeish, which followed an unsuccessful pursuit of first choice Michael O’Neill, who opted to remain with Northern Ireland.
Maxwell, who did not assume his post until after McLeish’s appointment, says there was never any doubt Clarke was his preferred target on this occasion, despite Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes and Scots under-21 boss Scot Gemmill also being considered.
Former Ross County defender Maxwell said: “Steve Clarke is the guy we wanted from the outset.
“To get it over the line is really, really pleasing. There was talk of clubs down south but he was absolutely desperate to be the Scotland manager and is really happy to be here and really focused on the job ahead.
“He was the number one target from the outset – absolutely.
“The record he had at Kilmarnock, when you look at how that translates into international football – the similarities between what he did there and what he is going to have to do with Scotland. It meant he was far and away the best guy.”
The appointment of Clarke has drawn unanimous praise across Scottish football, and Maxwell insists he has been overwhelmed by the response from pundits and supporters alike, ahead of his first EURO 2020 qualifying match in charge at home to Cyprus on June 8.
Maxwell added: “We are delighted and the reaction from the news on Monday has been incredible.
“I thought it would go down well. I didn’t think it would go down as well as it has.
“I don’t think anything the SFA has ever done has gone down as well as this – which is a bit of a first and we will enjoy that while it lasts.
“I would absolutely love to see a surge in ticket sales for the Cyprus game. The reaction to Steve’s appointment so far has been really, really good. There have been a lot of comments about wanting to come and support the manager.”