Anna Signeul changed Scottish women's football culture, says Gemma Fay
Scotland women head coach Anna Signeul's legacy will go beyond taking the side to their first major tournament, captain Gemma Fay says.
The Scottish FA announced Signeul will stand down after Euro 2017, having accepted a job as Finland head coach.
The Swede had broken the news privately to her players and backroom staff on Monday.
"She has essentially changed the culture of women's football in Scotland," said goalkeeper Fay.
"That's the huge difference."
Glasgow City's Fay was first to be told of Signeul's impending departure over a coffee at Heathrow Airport as the Scotland squad waited for the second stage of their journey to Cyprus for a double-header of friendly matches against Denmark on Friday and Monday.
Then, when the squad arrived at their hotel in Ayia Napa in the evening, Signeul was in tears as she told her backroom staff before an equally difficult subsequent meeting with her players.
"There was mostly a silence," Fay said of her team-mates' reactions after the coach had spoken.
"People were just processing the information. Anna wanted it out of the way quickly so we could move on to the two Denmark games."
'She started the chain reaction'
The 35-year-old keeper has been an almost ever-present in Signeul's sides since the coach replaced Vera Pauw in March 2005.
And Fay, who has played for Hibernian Ladies and Celtic Ladies, says the magnitude of what Signeul has achieved cannot be underestimated.
As well as her national team duties, Signeul has taken responsibility for all aspects of elite development.
"When she came to this country the top women's teams trained twice a week," Fay explained.
"I remember one of the first times she sat down with the clubs she said: 'You can continue to do this, but you're not going to get anywhere.'
"She took the coaches on a club visit to Sweden. I was a development officer at the time and I went as well.
"All of a sudden light bulbs started to switch on. [Former Glasgow City head coach] Eddie Wolecki Black was one of the first to realise that the only thing stopping us succeeding was ourselves.
"She started the chain reaction which led to the clubs training four or five times a week and the players and coaches adopting professional attitudes.
"You could pick out loads of improvements - such as the academy system and the number of players we have in professional leagues in other countries now.
"Sometimes all that has been overlooked and it shouldn't be. She has been the cause of a revolution in women's football in Scotland.
"The SFA have got a task on their hands to find a worthy replacement."
That task will be undertaken by new performance director Malky Mackay. He met Signeul and the Scotland players on the evening of his appointment late last year and now must ensure the new head coach is identified long before the next World Cup qualifying campaign begins in the autumn.
At Euro 2017 in the Netherlands, the Scots will face England, Portugal and Spain in Group D.
And Fay is confident Scotland can maintain the form they showed in their qualifying campaign, which yielded seven wins out of eight.
"It gives the next six months an extra impetus," added Fay, who is five short of a record 200 Scotland caps.
"We already had a big incentive with this being our first major championship, but now we will also want to show Anna our gratitude towards her in our performances."