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Most Exciting World Cup Moments: Number 24 – Gemmill’s Solo Stunner For Scotland [VIDEO]

24 Gemmill 600x428 Most Exciting World Cup Moments: Number 24   Gemmills Solo Stunner For Scotland [VIDEO]

No. 24: Gemmill’s Solo Stunner For Scotland (Argentina, 1978)

Whilst it may seem an unfathomable prospect these days, Scotland were actually a very good soccer team towards the back end of the last century. I kid you not!

Boasting arguably the world’s finest footballer at the time in Kenny Dalglish, the toughest player in the world in Graeme Souness, and exciting talents like Archie Gemmill and Lou Macari, the Scots qualified for the World Cup finals in Argentina in 1978 with high hopes. They’d beaten England 2-1 at Wembley in 1977 after all!

The Scots were pitted in a group with South Americans Peru, minnows Iran and an imperious Holland side. Whilst they may not have been able to top the group ahead of the Dutch, they certainly had enough quality to take points from their other two clashes.

Their opening game was against Peru, and it proved to be a real struggle. Scotland took an early lead through Joe Jordan, but toiled in the sweltering Cordoba sun, eventually losing 3-1 as Peruvian front man Teofilio Cubillas ran riot.

It meant that victory over Iran was imperative. But once again, the Scots wilted after a bright start. The Iranians put through their own net just before half time, but some slack play from Ally MacLeod’s team allowed Iran to score an equaliser and take a share of the spoils.

After such an awful start to their campaign, the Scots looked doomed. Only a three-goal win against Holland—one of the strongest sides in the competition—in their final group game would be enough to see them progress.

Their hopes looked to be dashed immediately, as the Holland’s star forward Bob Rensenbrink scored from the penalty spot. But the Scots battled back, with Dalglish levelling just before half time.

After the break, the Scots pushed forward, and Gemmill took centre stage. Scotland gave themselves a glimmer of hope when the Nottingham Forest man put them 2-1 up from the spot, meaning they now needed just a couple more to progress.

Then, in the 68th minute of the game, Gemmill picked up the ball on the right-hand-side and did this:

What happened next?

After Gemmill’s sensational goal, the Scots found themselves needing just one goal to qualify for the second group phase. But somewhat cruelly, the Dutch found themselves just one goal adrift three minutes later as Johnny Rep’s shot took a slight deflection off none other than Gemmill himself.

The Scots were out on goal difference again, for the second time in as many World Cups.

Looking back, with English football in disarray, Scotland had a wonderful chance to make an impression and carry the torch for British sides on the world stage. And whilst they showcased exactly how good they could be in that victory over the Dutch, they never seemed to perform when it really mattered.

The whole tournament was punctured with issues that would have surely had a detrimental effect on the side. Most notably when West Brom forward Willie Johnson failed a drugs test midway through the competition and was subsequently sent home in disgrace.

But Gemmill’s goal remains one of the greatest in the history of the World Cup and an iconic moment in Scottish football. It’s one of those goals you can watch over and over again; the touch, the link up with Dalglish, the balance and the finish are an absolute joy to behold.

The goal is etched in Scottish folklore, and immortalised in a rather raunchy scene from the film “Trainspotting” too. I’ll let you check that out for yourself, though.

Find out the top 25 most exciting World Cup moments.

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About Matt Jones

Matt has been writing for World Soccer Talk for more than two years, contributing pieces about myriad topics and regularly lending his voice to the podcast. Matt has covered games live for the website from a host of venues, including Wembley, London and the ANZ Stadium, Sydney. He is a regular at Goodison Park where he watches his beloved Everton, but harbours an unyielding interest in all aspects of European soccer. You can get in touch with Matt via e-mail at or on Twitter @MattJFootball
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3 Responses to Most Exciting World Cup Moments: Number 24 – Gemmill’s Solo Stunner For Scotland [VIDEO]

  1. Smokey Bacon says:

    One of my earliest World Cup memories. A terrific goal in an otherwise disastrous competition for Scotland who had a fine team at the time.

  2. francis says:

    Great goal by little Archie.I imagine a lot of those flying tackle attempts would have been carded in today’s game. The Scots were producing a ton of talent back then – amazingly Andy Gray couldn’t get on the team

  3. nick says:

    Hate to burst your bubble but the Peru game was 1. played at night 2. it was winter in Argentina and the average high during the day in Cordoba is 67 degrees. Other than that Archie’s goal was one of the tournaments great moments.

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