Scottish actor Sean Connery in 2008. Image Credit: AFP

Sean Connery, the iconic James Bond actor, came across as a brash and aggressive character on screen. But behind the scenes the man himself could not be further from the truth.

Connery passed away at the age of 90 on Saturday, and the death of Scotland’s greatest ambassador was mourned the world over.

It is fair to say the curt, aggressive fellows he played and whom catapulted him to fame in Hollywood became the stuff of legend. But that does not even begin to do justice to the man.

From the cynical, gambling and fatally-flawed killer Bond — ‘the name’s Bond, James Bond’ — to the flatfoot Untouchable Jimmy Malone, Connery captivated fans for a colossal seven decades, beginning in 1957 and ending with a performance that stole the show as Allan Quatermain in ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’.

That was not quite the fitting send off in a sadly poorly-received and under appreciated film, but once again Connery played a father figure who — just like the man himself — truly put gentle into the epitome of a true gentleman.

Connery always played the characters who took life lessons on the chin and went out of their way to convey them to other people, and it ways always the same in real life.

I had the privilege of meeting the great — and I mean that in every sense — man in Edinburgh as a young pup. I still recall him taking my hand — he had a touch like a feather — as he told me these words: “You will go on to do great things. Trust me. Believe in yourself.”

That moment has never left me and — while I am still awaiting my call-up to the World Cup-winning Scotland team — I think I got it.

Connery embraced life, embraced people and embraced everything he did.

Some 20 years later, I met Connery again, and — as I stood there with my suit on and press pass around my neck — I reminded him of what he told me.

“Told you,” he said before he moved off into the distance.

What a man.

And I didn’t even mention the acc’sh’ent.