Back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s; Scotland boasted some quality players and regarded as one of the giant killers of the game. In the World Cup 1974, they came good against the world champions Brazil and European powerhouse Yugoslavia while in 1978, they stunned the mighty Dutch and their players gained fame in European Leagues. But one thing always denied the Scotts and which was, achieving the glory according to talent, skill, and expectations.

In the World Cups and major tournaments, they always ended up as the underachievers and failed to progress further whereas, they should have featured in the top four of the competitions.

But then the 22-year old wait showed up!

Since the World Cup 1998, Scotland failed to qualify in any major tournaments.

Even when managers like Alex McLeish, in his first reign, and Walter Smith did excellent jobs, it was not quite enough. They alternated between play-off defeats and earlier exits, near-misses, and embarrassments.

Finally, the Scotts have broken the jinx.

As torrential rain cascaded down on Belgrade, Scotland looked instantly at home, initially dominating possession to such an extent that Serbia had a reason for relief their 50,000 capacity stadium was virtually empty.

The Scotts were unable to make the most of some early pressure, with a barrage of crosses failing to find their target and an ambitious free-kick from Christie the best they could muster.

Serbia gradually found their footing and in the 23rd minute Mitrovic teed up Sasa Lukic for a shot from the edge of the box that was placed just outside the upright.

After Andy Robertson blazed over, Christie worked the space on the edge of the box to create room for a shot that went in off the base of the post.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Jovic missed the target with headers before he was left unmarked by Scott McTominay to nod in Filip Mladenovic’s corner and force extra time.

Despite the blow, Scotland picked themselves up and bagged all five penalties – Griffiths, McGregor, McTominay, McBurnie, and McLean – before Marshall saved the final Serbian spot-kick from Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Steve Clarke has achieved what Berti Vogts, Tommy Burns, Walter Smith, Alex McLeish, George Burley, Craig Levein, Billy Stark, Gordon Strachan, and Malky Mackay all failed to do in leading Scotland to a major tournament.

In this century, 33 European nations have played in either a World Cup, a European Championships, or both.

A 34th, Finland, have qualified for a first in their 109-year history.

They include some of the unusual suspects: Latvia and Albania, Northern Ireland and Iceland, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

They include countries with a glorious past – Austria and Hungary.

They include those who had never occupied the major stage or ones absent for more than half a century, such as Wales.

But there was no sign of Scotland.

But perhaps, like North Macedonia, the UEFA Nations League came as a blessing for the Scotts to bring an end to the wait.

Scotland traveled to Belgrade via a method approximately very few understand, courtesy of the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League, and despite a largely undistinguished Euro 2020 qualifying campaign that began with the humiliation of 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan.

The progress has been complex and bumpy – in the end, the achievement is sweeter than ever.

Scotland simply lacked the mentality to grab the moments when it mattered the most and they lacked goal-scorers and leaders on the pitch.

This time around, in Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, and Kieran Tierney, they found the characters who could give them the lift when the chips are down. These players are renowned names in the English Premier League and the way they, especially, Andy Robertson, fought till the last breath, deserves to be admired by all.


Scotland have got the breakthrough they needed and now it is the time to advance further.

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