Date: 13th October 2007 at 7:52pm
Written by:

Not that long ago were we nearly in triple figures in the FIFA World Rankings. Quite frankly, it was embarrassing being a Scotsman. Berti Vogts lead us to the lowest of the lows. The phrase ‘feel like dirt’ was not strong enough.

It’s funny to look at the rankings now; Dominican Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti and Cape Verde Islands all sitting above where Scotland sat near the start of the 21st century.

In 2004, Berti finally got tae, well you know what. Surely it didn’t matter who came in, things could only get better right? My dead granny could have drawn out a more organised system than that used during Vogts reign.

In came Walter ‘HAHA, never got 10!’ Smith. Under Smith, Scotland gradually regained it’s respect and infact, dignity. Some things never change though as they say, Scotland being drawn in the group of brutal murder along side the two World Cup finalists France and Italy.

But Scotland got off to a flyer with a 6-0 home trouncing of the Faroe Islands before a fine 2-1 win in Lithuania. Up next was France. Desailly, Vieira, Trezeguet, Henry, you name it, they have it. For the sake of another cliche, miracles do happen though and Gary Caldwell swept the ball home from a corner kick and Scotland swept France off the park, a magnificent 1-0 victory against the World Cup runners up. But as things were looking up, Scotland travelled to Ukraine and were soundly beaten 2-0 with no thanks to Andriy Shevchenko’s antics. Worse was to follow as Rangers, who were sitting 3rd in the league at the time behind Celtic and Aberdeen, did the unthinkable and tried to lure Walter back to Ibrox. Thankfully, the SFA rejected the offers but with Rangers cheeky attempts bad enough, Smith handed in his resignation from the Scottish national football team and rejoined his old club.

It was thought at the time Smith was irreplacable; cue Alex McLeish. A new era in Scottish football. McLeish couldn’t have got off to a better start, a last minute strike from Craig Beattie giving Scotland the spoils against Georgia at Hampden. Later that week Scotland travelled to Italy. Even the great Jock Stein couldn’t take anything from the Italians on their own back yard and neither could Big Eck. Two months later it was off to Toftir, Scotland’s biggest banana skin in recent history. However, they ran away 2-0 victors without any slip-ups. In September this year Scotland entertained Lithuania at Hampden Park and the home side comfortably defeated the visitors 3-1. Four days later on 12th September, France played host to Scotland. We came, we saw and we conquered. James McFadden the man to give the credit for an out of this world 1-0 win.

It was unimaginable that Scotland could beat France home and away yet not qualify for Euro 2008. Today the Ukrainians made their way to Glasgow.

Four minutes in St. Faddy whipped the ball into the box from a free-kick on the right wing and Miller was on the end of it with a diving header giving Scotland the lead early on. Five minutes later McFadden once again was the genius setting up McCulloch to score his first ever international goal with a splendid curling shot on the left hand side of the 18 yard box. It was 2-1 though in the 24th minute when Shevchenko latched onto a loose ball from 6 yards and blasted the ball into the roof of the net. But midway through the 2nd half the man of the moment James McFadden finished brilliant from the edge of the box and it ended 3-1 to Scotland.

If Georgia can scrape anything from Italy Expedia may be getting a few more visitors than usual come Thursday.

Walter Smith and Alex McLeish have brought a nation from rags to riches and united the country.

To quote Richard Gordon on 12.10.07, we can do this.