AFTER more than 40 years' competing against some of the best football players around, playing under arguably the greatest manager in football history and coaching future Scotland stars, Walter Borthwick has retired from the game.

For the last 17 years, Borthwick has been developing the talents of East Lothian's football players in his role as football development officer for the county.

He has played a key part in hundreds of players' development, as well as furthering the game in a wider sense with coaching courses and helping implement the Scottish Football Association's strategic plan, 'Scotland United: A 2020 Vision', with a development centre at Pinkie, Musselburgh.

However, last Friday was his final day before settling into a summer of relaxation - before potentially more football!

Speaking to Courier Sport, Borthwick, 65, said: "It's getting to that age. Do I stay on or do I get out?

"I felt I had done enough; it's a younger man's game. I will miss it but it's the right time to get out. I'm sure there will be other opportunities.

"I just want to get over the line, sit back and think: 'What do I do now?' Scouting is at the back of my mind. I think that's an area that would appeal to me. I do like looking for rough diamonds out there.

"I have the whole summer to relax but I'll need to do something." Borthwick is not rushing to retire his coaching manual, and will continue to help out with coaching duties if required, including at Pinkie St Peter's Primary School, where the most promising county football players from primary five, six and seven are developed.

Borthwick said: "The 2020 centre at Pinkie is a good step forward; the best together, improve together. Being out with the kids, helping them improve, that's the bit I'll miss the most." Borthwick started his playing career at Greenock Morton before spells at East Fife, St Mirren, St Johnstone and Dunfermline, coming up against some of the foremost legends of Scottish football, including famous Celtic and Scotland winger Jimmy Johnstone.

It was while playing under Sir Alex Ferguson at St Mirren that Borthwick decided a career in coaching was what he wanted to do once he had hung up his football boots.

He explained: "I had been in football all my days. I was always a decent player but I got to my late-20s and you think about coaching. Ferguson was my manager at St Mirren and I decided there and then I wanted to coach and started to do my badges.

"I played three and a bit years under Fergie. It was good experience. He was a young coach, he had a way with players and was committed." Borthwick, from Edinburgh, went through his coaching A Licence while playing at Dunfermline and had offers to coach part-time at Falkirk and Forfar before, out of the blue, he received an offer to be a full-time first-team coach at Heart of Midlothian in 1980.

He was part of the coaching staff of the infamous Hearts side which finished league and cup runners-up in 1986 before leaving three years later. A short stint as manager of Arbroath followed before Borthwick began to work for the Scottish Football Association.

He was appointed football development officer for East Lothian in 1996.

At the time, East Lothian Council was putting in place a sports development strategy covering various sports.

"It couldn't have worked out any better," Borthwick said. "The East Lothian post suited me down to the ground.

"East Lothian has been brilliant. The team I worked with was brilliant. [Council healthy living manager] Eamon John has been a different class. I couldn't have worked for a better council." As of yet, Borthwick's replacement has not been appointed, but former Hearts player Lee Makel will be helping out once a week.