DThe Scottish football professionals celebrated their greatest success for almost a quarter of a century with an unforgettable cabin party. To the disco evergreen “Yes Sir, I can Boogie” by Baccara, the Bravehearts sang and danced in the catacombs of the National Stadium in Belgrade. Tears flowed, the motto was clear: Scotland is back!
An agonizingly long 23 years will have passed since the last tournament when the Scots compete in the pan-European European Championship next summer. Since the 1998 World Cup, the country has not been represented in the concert of the great, Scotland is one of the mother countries of the sport alongside England. On November 30, 1872, both teams contested the first official in Glasgow International match of football history against each other.
“You can’t take it”
“Usually we fail at the last hurdle or fail miserably,” said national coach Steve Clarke after the dramatic 5: 4 on penalties in the play-off final against hosts Serbia. What was meant were the sometimes bizarre qualifying rounds for the last tournaments. And this time too, the Scots seemed to trip themselves up.
Shortly before the end of the game, the Scots led through the goal of Ryan Christie (52nd), before the drama took its course. In the final phase, the Scots gave the rarely dangerous Serbs a corner kick, followed by the equalizer by the former Frankfurt Luka Jovic (90.). Scotland saved themselves on penalties, where goalkeeper David Marshall parried the decisive penalty from Aleksandar Mitrovic. Cheers! Ecstasy! Or not?
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz looked at the scene again. Did Marshall have one foot on the line? The waiting began, Marshall waved and pleaded before redemption followed: The parade was compliant.
“This shootout was probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. You can’t take it, ”said a stammering Christie. And Clarke added: “After the last penalty I had a little twinkle in my eye, but I managed to keep my emotions under control.” The hero of the evening struggled for words. “I don’t know how we did it,” said Marshall (35), who makes his money with the English second division team Derby County.
If the corona pandemic allows, Scotland will get two home games at the EM in Glasgow’s Hampden Park against the Czech Republic and Croatia. In between, there is a duel with archenemy England in Group D at Wembley Cathedral. England’s former international Peter Crouch congratulated on Twitter and wrote: “I know you hate us, but I was happy for you.”
Aside from the sporting side, the duel also has a politically explosive component during this time. After Brexit, which the Scots had rejected by a clear majority, calls for Scottish independence from the rest of the United Kingdom rose again. Above all head of government Nicola Sturgeon urges a new referendum, Great Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejects this categorically.
Already during the game and especially afterwards Sturgeon posted several enthusiastic posts on her Twitter account and congratulated her with countless Scottish flags, among other things. “What a boost for this country,” she wrote. At least in terms of sport, she was right that evening.