Brian McClair explains the origin of his ‘choccy’ nickname came from an "inappropriately dressed" Celtic fan
Former Manchester United and Scotland forward Brain McClair has set the record straight on the 'choccy' nickname he has carried with him throughout his playing career and during retirement, pinpointing the exact moment where it stuck.
In fact, McClair was dubbed 'choccy' long before his 1987 move to Manchester United, where he most famously carried the moniker with him. As he explains to FourFourTwo, the nickname actually stems from his days at Celtic, the club United signed him from.
"It came about during pre-season with Celtic," McClair reveals to FFT." We were in Switzerland, playing Basel on a baking hot day.
"These two Celtic supporters on the terrace were dressed inappropriately – long trousers, jumpers, scarves, hats and big coats, when it was 90 degrees in the shade – and one of them shouted, 'On you go, Chocolate McClair.'
"Tommy Burns (team-mate) decided he liked that and it annoyed me, so he kept calling me Chocolate and it stuck, then got abbreviated. But I like it, because of its uniqueness."
The chocolate-based pun has continued even in his retirement, with McClair's Instagram handle now @choccy.13. The immense beard he has grown has also taken on a life of its own as well, though, with the Scotsman since referring to himself as 'Chocrates' - after the Greek philosopher - and 'Gandalf'.
When asked why he sports such strong facial hair, McClair explains.
"I’m not too sure. I started it off as an experiment during lockdown. I have had it trimmed a couple of times, but it allows me to make comments like, 'I’m channelling my inner Gandalf' or reply to suggestions that I might be homeless.
"I think I do it because it annoys my mother."
That's not the only thing he's done that has annoyed someone, though. As a youth teamer at Aston Villa, manager Ron Saunders kicked McClair out of the club because he signed up for a university course prior to being offered a professional contract.
"In those times, you weren’t prepared at all – you left school and they expected you to behave like a man at 16. It’s about one opinion only: the coach responsible for your age group.
"The youth-team coach didn’t fancy me as a player and I didn’t play as much as I would have liked. I don’t know how they found out that I had applied for uni – I only applied as something to do, just in case – but I got called in to see Ron Saunders, who had just won the league with the first team.
"He said, “You’ve applied for uni? Well, you can f**k off to Scotland now.” The youth development officer took me to the digs, and I packed my bags and got on the train that afternoon."