Paul Hartley worked closely with Jackie McNamara.
Scotland team-mates, domestic competitors and managers on the same street. That is why news of McNamara’s ill health hit hard this week.
The former Celtic captain and one-time Dons defender collapsed near his home in York on Saturday, with the 46-year-old admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary in a critical but stable condition.
There was an outpouring of support for him, with ex-Celtic colleagues like Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Henrik Larsson all expressing their sympathies.
Hartley and McNamara flanked each other in the Scotland jersey, while having numerous league tussles during the latter’s 10-year stint with the Hoops.
The current Cove Rangers manager is another to have represented both Celtic and the Dons but their paths never crossed as team-mates at club level.
It was with the national side where they became familiar with each other. Hartley played his first four games for Scotland alongside McNamara, with the 2-1 win over Norway in September 2005 bringing the curtain down on McNamara’s international career with 33 caps.
“We played against each other and with each other for Scotland,” said Hartley. “He’s a good guy and still looks as young as ever, even at 46. He’s still got that baby face.
“My heart goes out to him and I wish him well with his recovery. It came as a real surprise, a shock.”
Both turned out for Aberdeen towards the end of their playing careers – McNamara in 2007-08 and Hartley in 2010-11.
After forging their managerial careers outside the top flight, with Alloa Athletic and Partick Thistle respectively, they were both handed roles on opposite sides of Tannadice Street.
Hartley took over from John Brown in 2014 and steered Dundee to promotion to the top flight, helping them finish in the top six in their first season back. McNamara had been in charge of United since the year previous, overseeing fourth and fifth-placed finishes and two cup final appearances.
“When we managed against each other, with Dundee and Dundee United, he always spoke very well,” added Hartley. “We always got on well with each other. I would always speak to him in my office after the game, win lose or draw.
“I just hope now he makes a full recovery.”
After leaving United in 2015, McNamara moved to English side York City, who were in the Football League at the time prior to their relegation.
He held the role of manager and later chief executive at the club, before standing down in 2018.
McNamara returned to Scottish football last year as a consultant with another of his former sides Dunfermline Athletic.