Scotland have unbelievable team spirit, will be underdogs at Euro 2020: Hutchison | Football News – Times of India
The Scots love to refer to their southern neighbours as the Auld Enemy, and as the two rivals prepare for the delayed 2020 European Championships clash at Wembley next month, the former Liverpool and Everton attacking midfielder explains what makes the oldest rivalry in international football special. Excerpts from an exclusive interview…
What do you remember of November 17, 1999?
Scotland absolutely dominated England in the second leg (of the European Championship 2000 qualification playoff). England had a really, really good team. They had some superstars like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Alan Shearer, Michael Owen. Really a top side full of world class players. But we gave everything on the night, dominated in every single position. There was only one team which was going to win the game. We were leading by a goal and I remember David Seaman pulled off a brilliant save to deny Christian Dailly. Had that been a goal, the match would have gone into extra time and we would have won. We didn’t do too well in the first leg (at Hampden Park) when England won 2-0 with both goals being scored by Paul Scholes.
Scotland famously won against England 1-0 at Wembley that day with you scoring the winner. How did that feel?
It’s the best moment for sure. My dad was born in Scotland. He was very patriotic. Whenever I played football as a kid, I always had pictures of me in the Scotland kit. If ever I turned pro, I always wanted to play for Scotland. I was fortunate to do that 26 times. My dad never missed a game and he was at Wembley. My dad was quite tough, six foot two, really strong man. That was the first time I had ever seen him close to tears. I say close, because he had a little tear in his eye. He was proud. The winner easily ranks for me the most important goal I have ever scored.
After 23 years, Scotland are back playing a men’s major football tournament again. You think they’ll be happy with just being there or much more ambitious?
I think we will be ambitious. Scotland are in a tough group and we are underdogs to qualify. What we have got is an unbelievable team spirit. Steve Clarke has generated that over the last couple of years. He has lot of players playing for Celtic or Rangers, more so many in the Premier League as well. Other countries may have a bigger and better squad than Scotland, but when I look at Scotland’s 11 to sort of 14 to 15 (players), Clarke will always have his best side. I am confident Scotland will give anyone a game.
What are Scotland’s chances of making it past the group phase of a major finals for the first time? There is Croatia, England and Czech Republic…
It’s going to be difficult. The England-Scotland game could be crucial. What an amazing atmosphere that will be. We are in a really, really tough group. It’s difficult to see how the fine margins would go, but we will be competitive. We will have to manage games. What Scotland will do, those blood, sweat and tears. They will leave everything behind on the football pitch.
England are in the same group as Scotland. Does that make it any special?
Absolutely. Personally, I have great memories of playing England (in the playoffs), not so much at Hampden where we lost. I was fortunate to get the winner at Wembley and the atmosphere was easily the best I have ever been part of. The national anthems, so much noise, the hair stood on end. Scotland players were singing the national anthem loud and proud. The England clash will be amazing to watch.
England made it to the World Cup semifinals in 2018 and came up with some good performances. Can a mature England deliver at the Euros?
They can, because they are good enough, but I think it’s going to be difficult. What England need more than anything are people in the midfield who can control the ball, when under pressure. England has lacked that in previous competitions. They’ve always been gung-ho, trying to get the goals, hanging on; there’s no real control in the midfield. (Manager) Gareth Southgate will want an element of control, especially with the heat, especially with teams coming on to you. England’s biggest test will be in game management.
In your eyes, who are the favourites?
France, but not by a massive margin. Teams like England will be in with a good shout, Scotland might be underdogs. The Italians have a really good squad under (Roberto) Mancini. They have a young, exciting squad. Belgium are ranked number one in the world. When you look at the tournament, there are probably three or four outstanding teams, but there are certainly more that can win it.
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