When Martin Rennie was still in his formative years, Brian Irvine was becoming an Aberdeen hero in the Scottish Cup final.
Little did he know, 15 years or so down the line, that the two would join forces and become a successful coaching duo in the United States.
Rennie and ex-Dons defender Irvine have worked together in Cleveland, Carolina and South Korea, winning trophies and expanding their own horizons at the same time.
Irvine is back in Scotland, while Rennie continues to forge a sterling reputation for himself in North America. Currently head coach of USL side Indy Eleven, Rennie, who hails from Bettyhill in the far north, has great appreciation for the man who helped him on his journey.
“He was someone who’s helped me quite a lot over the years,” Rennie told the Northern Goal podcast. “He was in Cleveland, Carolina and South Korea with me for a bit as well.
“He’s got great knowledge and experience and someone who was always encouraging and positive. That’s important as a young coach, to have help from people like him who are well-respected in football and see your potential.
“He’s someone who’s been a great help to me and has helped me have success at different clubs in different parts of the world.
“Around that time he was in high-demand, in terms of speaking at things and he came and spoke at our Boys’ Brigade. He came to our house for dinner that night and obviously as a kid, I was a little bit starstruck.
“Through a mutual friend, the opportunity for him to come out and coach with me after he’d left Elgin came up.”
Working together in Cleveland for the City Stars, Rennie and Irvine delivered the USL Championship in 2008. The following year they moved to the RailHawks in North Carolina and delivered the NASL title in 2010, also working with current Aberdeen coaching duo Stephen Glass and Allan Russell.
Rennie went on to work at MLS franchise Vancouver Whitecaps and under his tenure, they became the first Canadian team to make the league’s post-season.
He reunited with Irvine when the Seoul E-Land job came up, in what has become an enriching and fulfilling coaching journey.
“I do appreciate the different places and different people; I’ve travelled enough to realise you’ve got to take a step back and take it all in,” added Rennie. “Otherwise you’re missing a lot that’s going on round about you.
“While your focus is on the job, which is time-consuming, but in these places it opens your mind up to ‘OK, I see the world one way, based on where I grew up and who I was around’. Now I’ve moved to America I can see other people’s perspectives and I can take some of that on board, to help myself and other people.
“I think it’s changed me a lot as a person and help me realise a lot of weakness and strengths. How to work through those and have people help me through those.
“I’ve realised life isn’t an individual sport; you have to have your own strong mentality but you really want to be doing life with other people. A lot of travelling and being in different situations has helped me with that.”