Glasgow (AFP) – Scotland are back at a major international tournament for the first time in 23 years as Steve Clarke’s men attempt to rewrite the record books at Euro 2020.
The Scots have never made it beyond the group stage of a World Cup or European Championship despite being regular qualifiers with richly talented squads between the 1970s and 1990s.
AFP Sport looks at five tales of Scotland’s troubled tournament past:
1978 – Ally’s Army in Argentina
Expectations were so high before the 1978 World Cup that before jetting out to South America the Scotland squad were paraded in front of thousands of fans at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
Bombastic manager Ally MacLeod confidently predicted his side would come back “with a medal”.
But a team boasting recently crowned European Cup winners Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness were humbled 3-1 by Peru in their opening game and then held 1-1 by Iran.
Needing to win by three goals in their final group game against the Netherlands, Scotland finally showed up as Archie Gemmill scored one of the World Cup’s all-time great goals.
However, a 3-2 win over a side that would progress to the final was too little, too late.
1982 – Narey’s ‘toe poke’
Scotland got off to a much better start in Spain four years later, thrashing New Zealand 5-2.
Next up was a Brazil side considered to be one of the most talented ever seen. But it was an unheralded defender from Dundee United who opened the scoring in spectacular fashion in Seville.
David Narey’s blast into the top corner has gone down in Scottish football folklore, with English pundit Jimmy Hill’s description of the goal as a “toe poke” making him the focus of Tartan Army ire for many years.
Brazil’s class shone through in the end for a 4-1 win that ultimately cost Scotland a place in the knockout phase on goal difference, with the Soviet Union progressing along with the South Americans.
1986 – Fergie’s flops
Shortly before he took charge of Manchester United, Alex Ferguson stepped into the void left by Jock Stein’s death to take charge of Scotland at the 1986 World Cup.
Stein collapsed on the touchline towards the end of a crucial qualifier against Wales in September 1985.
Ferguson had already made a name for himself in guiding Aberdeen past Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to win the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983.
He failed to produce another miracle in Mexico, though, as after defeats to Denmark and West Germany, Scotland needed to beat Uruguay in their final group game to progress.
Despite Jose Batista being shown the quickest red card in World Cup history after just 56 seconds for scything down Gordon Strachan, the Scots failed to score and bowed out after a goalless draw.
1990 – Costa Rica shocker
Once more Scotland arrived at a World Cup, this time in Italy, full of expectation after qualifying at the expense of France.
However, that optimism was again punctured within 90 minutes after a shock 1-0 defeat to tournament debutants Costa Rica.
Despite responding to beat Sweden 2-1, a 1-0 defeat by Brazil sealed Scotland’s fate.
1996 – Gazza’s iconic moment
Twenty-five years on from Euro 96, Scotland and England will face off again in their second group game at Wembley.
After holding the Netherlands 0-0 in their opening game of that tournament, hopes were high that Scotland could shock the Three Lions.
But after Alan Shearer opened the scoring and Gary McAllister’s penalty was saved by David Seaman, Craig Brown’s men were undone by a moment of magic from a man playing in Scotland at the time.
Rangers midfielder Paul Gascoigne’s iconic strike, as he flicked the ball over Colin Hendry’s head with his left foot and finished with his right, sealed a 2-0 win for England.
Scotland beat Switzerland 1-0 in their final group game and were briefly heading through, with England thrashing the Netherlands 4-0. But a late Patrick Kluivert consolation saw the Dutch edge through on goals scored.
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