Scotland haven’t qualified for a major tournament for 22 years, but Kevin Gallacher sees similarities between the current team and the one that made it to France 1998…
On Thursday, someone has a chance to be the first Scottish player in 23 years to experience what Kevin Gallacher.
It was Gallacher’s header that set Craig Brown’s Scotland on the way to the 1998 World Cup, opening the scoring in what would turn out to be a 2-0 win over Latvia that sealed their spot in France.
That day was slightly less make or break than the challenge that the current team face against Serbia. This time, it’s win or stay at home next summer. Back in 1997, Scotland had the playoffs to fall back on, but the tension was still high at Parkhead.
“Spain had to play a match later on, which 99% of the time is a done deal,” Gallagher told The Totally Scottish Football Show this week. Had the Faroe Islands improbably won that game, then Spain would have finished second in their group and pipped Scotland to the best runners-up spot, and automatic qualification.
“We were nervous: we needed a goal to settle our nerves early on. It was a massive, must-win match, but even if we won we were waiting on a team doing us a favour.
“I must admit, it was probably one of the most nervous games I’ve ever played in. I was scared when I went for the rebound that I’d head it over the bar.
“We relaxed after the goal.”
Gallacher certainly sees similarities to the side he played in, and the one Steve Clarke is attempting to guide to their first major tournament appearance in 22 years.
“You can see it. We don’t have an abundance of top individual talent: we have good players, & when they play together & play really well, they’re a good squad. Steve is trying to do what Craig Brown did. It’s almost like a club team. Everybody got on.
“There were probably 16 regulars and ten people doing well with their clubs that would get into the squads. When you were doing well, you got picked. The spirit was very much like your club, and Steve thinks that way.
“We don’t have Ronaldo, Rivaldo – individual talents we can rely on. We need these individual talents to play as a team, and when we do, as we have done, look at the results it’s bringing us. It’s fantastic.”
Kevin Gallacher was speaking to The Totally Scottish Football Show as an ambassador for Football Aid. To find out more, click here.
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