Five Unforgettable Clashes with the Auld Enemy

By Keiran Fleming

After what was a disappointing return to the major international stage for Scotland, Steve Clarke will be looking for his men to bounce back when they come face-to-face with ‘Auld Enemy’ England.

Both nation’s footballing history have been intertwined ever since their first meeting in 1872, making it the oldest international fixture in world football. 4000 spectators watched the groundbreaking bout at Hamilton Crescent in Partick as it ended goalless.

Since their historic meeting in Glasgow, Scotland and England have battled it out on the pitch 114 times with the English winning 48 and the Scots winning 41. The 115th match between the pair will be one of the most important in Scotland’s history. A win may be all that is needed for Clarke’s side to progress into the knock-out rounds for the first time ever.

Here are five of the biggest games that have ever taken place during their 149 year rivalry.

The Wembley Wizards

Both England and Scotland were off to a terrible start in the 1928 British Home Championship. Scotland lost to Ireland and drew against Wales; England lost both their opening games. Even with the slow start there was still an electric atmosphere surrounding the clash at Wembley. 11 train loads of supporters arrived in London from Glasgow the night before the game. The opening 45 minutes were closely contested, with Huddersfield Town’s Alex Jackson and Preston’s Alex James putting the Scots ahead before half-time. The second half  became one of the most memorable in Scottish football history.  Jackson completed his hat-trick and James scored a second putting the visitors up five goals to nil against their fierce rivals. A minute from time the English managed to grab a consolation but the party in the away crowd had already started. The Wizards would never be selected en masse again following their triumph across the border.

Unofficial Champions of the World

England followed their 1966 World Cup win with a 19 game unbeaten run. Their impressive form would be halted at Wembley in 1967 by familiar foes Scotland. The Scots went into this match as the clear underdogs even though they started four of Celtic’s Lisbon Lions and stars such as Denis Law, Jim Baxter and Billy Bremner. The visitors took the lead early on with a Law goal. Lennox would double their lead with just 12 minutes left on the clock. English talisman Jack Charlton did suffer an injury early on but manager Alf Ramsay was unable to sub him off, therefore he decided to put Charlton up front. This seemed to be a stroke of genius when Charlton scored the first goal for England. Jim McCalliog soon re-established the Scot’s two goal lead making the score 3-1. Geoff Hurst managed to score a goal a minute later but it wasn’t enough for the reigning world champions. Jim Baxter famously toyed with his opponents by doing keepie uppies during the dying embers of the game. After the game Scotland playfully claimed that they were the unofficial world champions.

Jim Baxter celebrating with fans following the shock win

The Invasion of Wembley

The 1977 face-off with the ‘Auld Enemy’ is less remembered for the 90 minute match but more for the scenes following it. Gordon McQueen thundered Scotland ahead when he met a crossed free-kick with a powerful header. Kenny Dalglish then doubled the lead by scrambling the ball over the line. Mick Channon converted a late penalty kick two minutes from time but it would only be a consolation for England. After the final whistle the Tartan Army rushed the pitch in celebration. Fans were lifting their heroes in the air and scaling the framework of the goals, eventually breaking the crossbar. 

Welcome to the Gazza Show

The last time Scotland qualified for the Euros was in 1996 and they were also drawn in a group with England. Before the game at Wembley, Flower of Scotland was drowned out by boos coming from the home crowd. The first 45 minutes were closely fought, finishing 0-0 with Scotland having the better of the chances. Alan Shearer put England ahead early on in the second half with a headed goal. A Tony Adams’ foul in the 76th minute gave the Scot the opportunity to equalise from the spot. Gary McAllister’s pen was saved, infamously spoon-bender Uri Geller claimed to have moved the ball from the spot whilst he sat in a helicopter hovering above Wembley. Minutes later Paul Gascoigne, who was plying his trade for Rangers at the time, scored one of the most iconic goals in the competitions history. Gazza cheekily dinked the ball over Colin Hendry’s head before lashing a volley home, doubling their lead. Scotland would fail to qualify from the group and England would crash-out in the semi-final.

Last Minute Heartbreak at Hampden

It has been four years since Scotland last faced the ‘Auld Enemy’ in an instant classic at Hampden. The first 45 minutes ended goalless but it was followed by a breathtaking second half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished from close-range in the 70th minute and with three minutes to go it all but looked like England had cemented the win, until they gave away a free-kick. Leigh Griffths stepped up and hit a curling effort past a diving Joe Hart. Scotland got another free-kick given their way, once again Leigh Griffths stepped up to stun their historic rival, sending the Tartan Army into a frenzy. Strachan’s men were seconds away from beating England for the first time since 1999 before Harry Kane tapped a volley in at the back post to equalise.

“When I look back on my career, I look back on it with a smile” Clare Gemmell Interview

By Colin Byiers

Following the conclusion to the SWPL season, one of the games most recognised names, Clare Gemmell, played her final game as she is to hang up her boots. In a career that has seen her play at the highest level, including the Champions League, Clare got a well deserved send off from her club and those within the game.

I was lucky enough to be able to have been able to speak with Clare shortly after her finally game, as we spoke about her decision to retire, what’s next and her thoughts on the women’s game in this country.

So, Clare, you’ve made the decision to hang up the boots, what made you decide that this was the time to do it?

It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about, and I knew it was coming all season, even from the initial start of the season. There’s a combination of factors. I’m obviously getting a wee bit older now, and in an amazing way the women’s game in this country has come on a long way. I also work, so this is only part-time for me, and I just felt it was the right time for me to call it a day. I always wanted to go out at the top level, so being at a really good club, (Rangers Women FC), I knew I wanted to end my career at the club. So, in a funny way it was an easy decision to make but a hard one at the same time.

What’s the response been like from people within the game to your retirement?

To be honest, I’ve been so overwhelmed. After the final home game, I didn’t know any of that was going to happen, with the guard of honour and things. People who I have played with over the years have said so many kind things about me and that’s taken me a back slightly, how much I have influenced the game. Which is really nice for me to have done something, even if it’s in a small way, to help the game or help the players around me. It’s really humbling and emotional and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to retire.

If I could, I would play forever! Unfortunately, your body doesn’t allow you to do that. For me it’s the right decision, and when I look back on the last couple of weeks and the response from everybody else and the club and the send-off I got, it’s made me know I’ve done the right thing. I take pride in the fact it was my own decision and wasn’t because of an injury or petering out on a bench for years. I liked the fact I had control over it myself, and it was on my terms and even though I knew it was coming, maybe others didn’t, you have time to prepare yourself, or at least you think you do! For a lot of athletes, it can be a difficult transition because playing has been such a big part of your life, so I don’t know myself how I’m going to be in the weeks and months ahead, especially when pre-season starts. Right now won’t affect me as much because everyone is on a break anyway, but when you know people are back for pre-season and start watching the games and you are not involved with that, I don’t know how I will be. Because I knew it was coming, I have made peace with the fact I won’t be playing, but I just hope the women’s game continues to go up and up and it’s such a good thing to see and I’m privileged to have done it for so long.

I’d like to go back to the start of your footballing journey and ask how you started in the game?

I’ve been kicking a ball around since I can remember! So much credit has to go to my Granda. I used to kick a ball around with him with the little balls when I was about 4 and he used to take on a Saturday morning to a boy’s club in Port Glasgow, where I lived. At the time, I was swimming from the age of 7 to 12, and when I turned 12, I decided I wanted to give up swimming and I wanted to play football for a girls’ team. At the time, my Granda made some enquiries, and I went to Largs Girls, which doesn’t exist anymore. That’s where my career started, and it took off from there.

When I first started, there wasn’t a lot of coaching involved on the women’s game, it was more just go and play. At Largs, it was two women running the team, and coaching wasn’t their thing, but what a job they done. It was just about giving girls a platform to play football. There were good players in that team. I played with Jo Love, so still some familiar faces in the game, but there wasn’t much coaching. That came later in my career.

Do you think there might have been a lot of girls and young women that have been lost to the game because of the lack of coaching or facilities?

I played with so many players over the years that had potential, and though a number of different factors, like having to travel because there wasn’t a team around where they stayed. This generation coming through don’t realise how lucky they are because they can be professional, but a lot of folk had jobs and they were tying to balance all of that along with training. Back then, we only trained twice a week and played on a Sunday, so the intensity of what’s expected has massively increased and that probably started 10 years ago, so I’m not surprised so many players left the game. Because it becomes a balancing act and you need to live, but I’m a stubborn person and I wasn’t going to give it up! It’s just meant so much to me playing football. I love the sport so much and being part of a group, you can’t get that anywhere else. I love to win, and if you heard what other people say about me, I’m quite aggressive and passionate when I play! It’s the winning and the competing, I just had to have it as part of my life.

You had been with Rangers for 7 years, what was it like joining them?

I was brilliant, it’s such a good club. Before that, I was at Hamilton Accies, which was a really good side. It was Kevin Murphy who brought me in at Hamilton and after 2 seasons, Kevin moved to Rangers and asked to go and I really respected him as a coach, and as a manager and as a person, so I was absolutely up for giving it a go and I don’t regret it.

Was there any indication that early on that the club would move into being a full-time club?

There were always rumblings within the women’s game about wanting to do it, but what it comes down to is money. Off the back of the Women’s World Cup (2019), when Scotland did so well, I think it kick started that. The country had to take notice that this is going somewhere and thankfully, not just Rangers, but other clubs have as well, bought into that vision and helped to push it forward. I know some many people over the years have been trying to fight for it, but it has to be at the right time, but I’m just thankful it’s finally happened. Going full-time has meant that you can put your full focus into it and you’re not having to worry about a second job and balancing them. It also means you can focus on other parts of the game. If you are part-time or amateur, you can only get a couple of hours to work on everything, where as full-time, you get 6 hours a day, two sessions a day, lunch there, you are getting looked after by the medical staff and backroom staff, so there is no question it gives them a huge benefit and it’s one that I hope other clubs can find the funding and find a way to do it can only benefit the game as well.

Was one of the highlights of your career becoming Rangers captain?

It’s a privilege to be captain regardless of what team you are at. I think it shows the value that a club and a team put in you. It’s not the first club I’ve captained, but it’s the best club I’ve captained so it’s been such a privilege. Over the years, it’s been such a good group of girls, it’s made my job easy. If you ask anybody, and I certainly try to be this way, I’m pretty honest, so if someone is looking for advice from me, I’ll tell them exactly what I think, but I’ll also back that up with how I can make them better, and I think folk over the years have respected that about me. It’s all about opinions and folk look for different things in a captain and sometimes you need to adapt and change for different people.

Knowing that this was your final season, did you have any targets you wanted to achieve?

Obviously, I wanted to win the league! I think we played some really good football this year, but ultimately you need to score goals to win leagues and we didn’t manage that in key games. So, in a way, I’m disappointed not to have done that, or at least get Champions League football because the girls worked so hard and they deserved something out of the season, but that’s the way football is, and you need to take it on the chin. They can look back on it and take it into next season to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and I have every faith they will do that because it’s such a good group.

How emotional was your final home game, the win against Motherwell?

It really was. It was more emotional because it was the first time, I heard other folk saying I was retiring. When you hear it out loud from someone else, it’s almost like there’s no going back now. I managed to keep it together on the pitch thankfully, but when I went into the changing room and looked on Twitter, and when I seen all the messages, that was me gone. I was crying half the night! I think it just means how much the sport means that I had that reaction. After the initial shock, I was fine and even after the game against Glasgow City, which was the final game for me, I had come to terms with it. It was really emotional. Happy and sad.

And typically, you managed to get on the scoresheet.

That was a must! I was asked to play a litter deeper that game, and I was like “come on, I want to score!”, and thankfully in the later stage of the game when Daina (Bourma) came on, she said she would sit for me so I could get forward. I managed to get in the box and score a header, but I should have scored in the first half, when I was through on goal and a couldn’t miss, but I did! I did manage to score in the 80th minute and it was a nice way to round off my final home game.

You also received a guard of honour at the end too.

I didn’t know what was happening. Then the next minute everyone was lining up. I’ve played with a lot of the Motherwell girls over the years as well, so I knew a few of them so it was nice to see familiar faces on both sides. It was a nice thing to do, and the club didn’t have to do that for me, Motherwell didn’t have to do that for me, but I’m honoured they did do that for me.

When you look back at your career, can you sum it all up?

I’ve so much. Thinking about success, I played at Glasgow City for 5 years, which was at the start of this 14-in-a-row that they have managed and what an achievement that is and even though I’ve been at Rangers for 7 years, I’ve been apart of that. I’ve played in the Champions League, I got offered to go on trial in Germany when I was 24, played under 19’s for Scotland. I’ve had so many highs in my career, that other people just haven’t been able to do, and it makes me smile and positive when I look back over it.

So, what does the future hold for you?

I don’t want to walk away from the game completely, I don’t think I’d be able to. Even if I go and watch a game, I’ll still be standing shouting from the side! I’d like to remain at Rangers in some capacity. I’ve had discussions with them about how that would look, but I’ve got a lot of experience in the game, I’ve seen it transition from where it was 20 years ago to where it is now, so I’ve been through a lot, and I think it would be a waste if I didn’t pass that on in some way.

Finally, I’d like to get your thoughts on the women’s game in Scotland. Where do you see it on a national level?

There is no reason why it can’t follow these other counties across Europe and in England in terms of the structure of women’s football, but what folk need to realise is that the have had so many more years at it than we have, so we are right at the start, and it takes time. For me, women and men’s football, yes, it’s the same game, but it’s different. Women should be looked at in their own merit, and it’s about giving the game time to develop to see what it’s going to look like. When clubs are turning professional, they do that because they have a vision of the game, but in 5 years’ time, that vision might be different because of so many outside factors. The most important thing is that it keeps going forward, it can’t stand still. It’s about pushing the game and trying to attract better players into playing in this country and then encourage fans to come and support whatever team they support. It’s also about being role models for the younger girls and that gets them into the sport also and all that leads to giving it a better base. I know it won’t stop here and it will continue to improve and I’m glad it’s finally happening. You look at the talent in the national squad, some play in this country but most play all over the World. If you look back 10 or 15 years ago, maybe one or two played else where across the World, so the fact that these girls are playing in leagues that have been doing it for a lot longer than we have and playing with better players, it’s no coincidence that the national team is pushing on and doing better. We will have success in the national team I’m sure and there are some class players in there.

Thanks to Clare for taking the time to speak with us.

“I’m disappointed with the way the season went” Tommy Muir Q&A

By Colin Byiers

Tommy Muir recently moved to Stranraer from fellow League 2 side Stenhousemuir, and it was third time lucky for The Blues manager Stevie Farrell, as he finally gets is man. Muir has a glowing reputation with managers in the Scottish Lower Leagues and has had to make difficult phone calls to reputable managers to tell them that he would not be joining them.

I had the chance to speak with Tommy following his move as we spoke about the ambitions for the new season, his time as Annan, Stenny and Dalbeattie Star, as well as the prospect of playing in front of fans again.

Firstly Tommy, how pleased are you that you have joined Stranraer and got the deal done early?

I’m really pleased. It’s something has been on the pipeline for a bit now. I spoke to the Stranraer manager (Stevie Farrell) the last two pre-seasons about joining the club but for various reasons it hasn’t come off. When I spoke to him this year it was really positive, and I know a couple of the boys that are there. They had a really positive season so hopefully we can go one step further and achieve promotion back into League 1.

What does it do for you as a player and personally knowing that you are going to be playing for a manager who has been chasing you for 2 years?

It gives you a really big confidence boost especially after having quite a frustrating season myself, with a couple of injuries and it being quite stop/start, so for him to still come in for me this year is a big confidence boost. He obviously like me and likes the way I play. If I go out and play my normal, that’s the reason he’s signed me, so if I do what I do normally and what I’ve before, he’ll be happy.

You mentioned that things didn’t work out previously when Stranraer came in for you, so what was the difference this time round?

The first time Stranraer came in for me, they were in League 1 and I just had my first season at Annan, scoring 15 goals. I was on holiday when the manager contacted me, but I just felt like I had just got started at Annan, off the back of a good season, and I was really happy at Annan. I felt I didn’t need to move, and I was happy there and wanted to play there for a second season. Last year, I had spoken to Stenhousemuir and it was pretty much a done deal before Stranraer came in, and I didn’t want to go back on my word with Stenny. This season, I had a couple of options, but the Stranraer option was the one that appealed to me the most. There wasn’t much to think about once the manager spoke with me and I just had a gut feeling it was the right place to go. I couldn’t say no three times in a row to be fair! It was an option I hoped would come up. Hopefully I can repay the managers faith and get a few goals and be a positive signing for the club.

For those who may not know your career to date so far, tell me about your time at Dalbeattie Star, where you started your career.

I was top scorer there for 2 years in a row. I grew up in Dalbeattie and I was training with them while I was still at the school, but it was Paul McGinley and Raymond Gallacher who took me in. Sometimes for the training I was in goals if they didn’t have a keeper. I collected the balls, collected the cones and things. I just started doing things like that while still playing local youth football. Dalbeattie were in the Lowland League when it started and had a really strong, so I dipped in and out of training depending on what game was coming up at the weekend. After my youth football finished, they took me in for the season and the original plan was to put me out on loan, but I had a positive preseason and they kept me. I made the bench and made a few appearances and scored a couple of goals. There was a bit of uncertainty when the manager left and the new one came in, but he, (Darren Kerr), played me as first choice striker even at the age of 17. I ended up playing a fair few games and scored a few goals too, so that’s how it all started really.

Annan was your next club, where you enjoyed another couple of good seasons.

Yeah, it was off the back of a good season with Dalbeattie. They were fighting relegation and I scored 15 goals, and we finished second bottom and stayed up on the last day of the season. I had already signed up with Dalbeattie for the following season, but the manager phoned me saying that they had Annan wanting me to go in there for a trial. It wasn’t an easy thing to do because I had a good couple of seasons with Dalbeattie and they had been really good with me, and I still stayed there, but trying League football was a big thing for me. I had a decent trail period at Annan and obviously offered me a deal. Dalbeattie were good enough not to step in the way and released me; never took a fee for me or anything. So, a big credit to Dalbeattie Star for doing that, especially after being their top goal scorer.

My first season at Annan was excellent. I was lucky to make my debut against Hamilton in the BetFred Cup as the striker was injured and I started the game. I had a good game and it set the tone for the rest of the season. In my second season, I scored my first hat trick against Cove Rangers in November down at Galabank. It was actually our team night out in Newcastle that night, and I don’t know what happened, but we somehow managed to beat Cove 6-1! It was a mad day that was followed by a mad night as well! That was one of my highlights at Annan, beating Cove 6-1. It was quite a shock to people and even for us.

Last year, you moved to Stenhousemuir and joined another manager who had been watching you for a while, as manager Davie Irons admitted he had been keeping tabs on you for 18 months.

Davie is local to my area too, so I had spoken to a few boys and asked how he was, and nobody could have spoken about him any higher than they did. Nobody had a bad word to say about him and they thought he could improve me as a player. I was delighted to go into Stenny, because they are a decent sized club. I’m just disappointed by the kind of season it was between Covid and injuries and the season being stopped. With Covid, I never played in front of the supporters, and you don’t meet as many people from the board as you normally would. It was just a funny season to be there to be honest. It’s a pity that we never got a proper full season at it. I’d be lucky if I had played 20 games, so it was definitely a short stint at Stenny.

What was it like linking up with Mark McGuigan?

What a guy Mark is! Before you talk about how good a footballer he is, he’s a great guy, really professional and doesn’t let anything get to him either. He went through a spell when I first joined where he wasn’t in the picture really, but he trained hard, turned up on time and his attitude was excellent. It’s the first time I had seen someone almost get shut out, but his attitude was brilliant. Credit to him for that. Once he did come into the team, he was someone I liked playing with. He liked playing as a two. He wasn’t selfish. He made runs that helped me and vice versa. I enjoyed playing up front with him and I learned a bit from him as well. He’s a big player and will be a big lose to Stenny this year. He’ll go into League 1 and do well and might even push East Fife into the play-offs.

Your new manager, Stevie Farrell, spoke of his disappointment at losing in the Play-offs. Is that the target again for the club, to be in the Play-off’s again?

100%. I was disappointed to see that as I had already signed, so was hoping to see them get into League 1, but it wasn’t meant to be. The season coming up, we’ve got to be looking at the play-off’s, but it’s going to be a very strong league. League 2 is becoming a league where there are no games you are expected to win any more. Every game is competitive, and anyone can take points from anyone. Albion Rovers struggled for a spell and then went on a massive run and scored 5 away from home at Elgin.

After the disappointment of last season, what’s your personal goals or aims?

It’s about trying to get as many games as I can and get as many goals as I can, plus shack off a few niggling injuries that have come from impacts, so it’s been quite unfortunate really. I mean, I had a kick to the foot and fractured my metatarsal, and then got pulled down from a corner and my own defender has landed on me and done my MCL in my knee. So, silly things like that. Hopefully I can get a season where I don’t get suspensions or injuries. With the strikers that Stevie has had at Stranraer, he likes to rotate them, so that probably helps keep you fresh. So, going into this season, it’s about getting into the play-offs, staying injury free, playing as many games as possible and scoring as many goals as I can.

Are you looking forward to the prospect of playing in front of fans again?

It’s massive. The fans are brilliant! Even the away fans. The best bit about football is the supporters. It’s not been the same at all this year, it’s like training games. Not that it should affect you, but even just a couple of hundred fans gives you that extra buzz and then you have away fans giving you abuse: it’s brilliant! That’s football and that’s how it should be. It’s been tough without the fans to be honest. I think they will bring the standard of the games up and bring the competitiveness up as well. Obviously, if you are losing then they will be on your back, or if you are winning, they will be encouraging you to push on. Supporters back in the grounds will be massive and I hope it happens soon.

Thanks to Tommy for taking part in the Q&A and good luck for the season ahead.

“We had a belief that we could do special things in the game in Scotland” Willie Miller Interview

By Keiran Fleming

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen are etched in the memory of football fans across the country. Their win over Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners Cup final will always be seen as the greatest moment in the club’s history.

However, the season after saw them accomplish another accolade, they became the first and only team to complete the domestic double outside of the Old Firm. Saint Johnstone will be looking to match this achievement when they take on Hibs in the Scottish Cup final.

Aberdeen legend Willie Miller always knew the Dons would embark on one of the greatest runs in Scottish football: “From the beginning of the 80’s we had a belief that we could do special things in the game in Scotland. The important thing is you had to deal with the occasion of being at Hampden and being in finals. There’s probably a lot of fear that you won’t win it. That was a driver for our team.”

The 1983-84 season is one that won’t be forgotten in the North-East. The Gothenburg greats beat Celtic to the title by seven points. They would face the Hoops at Hampden for the 1984 Scottish Cup.

Both teams scored in the first 90 minutes which forced the game into extra time. A Mark McGhee 98th minute goal proved to be the winner and sealed the historic double for the Red Army.

The fan voted ‘greatest Aberdeen player of all time’ thinks the Saints may have a slight advantage off the back of their previous triumphs this season: “You need the belief that you can lift trophies. I think with St Johnstone lifting one trophy so far they will have a bit of belief that they can do the second trophy. This (Scottish Cup) is the one that really matters.

“I’ve won four Scottish Cups; these are the ones that stand out for me. The league cups are good, they’re important but the prime trophy of cup competitions in Scotland is the one at the end of the season. It’s a huge accolade for any team that lifts that trophy, especially any team outside the Old Firm.”

The Dons icon believes there is more pressure when it comes to winning a double: “You want to make that history, you want to take that leap, that step. You want to make your career something special and that makes the pressure come on, sometimes that can affect performances. At the end of the day it’s about getting the result.

“I’ve played in cup finals where we played well, played in some where we haven’t played as well as we can but we still managed to lift the trophy and I’ve played in finals where the opposition were just better than us. If you perform to your top level that’s all you can do.

“I think there would be a fair bit of pressure on Saint Johnstone knowing the fact that if they did manage to do the double it would be something quite extraordinary.”

The man once described as ‘the best penalty box defender in the world’ by Sir Alex sees the double as one of the biggest accomplishments in his time at Pittodrie: “It’s a big achievement there is no doubt about that, there’s not many teams that do it.

“I have had enough opportunities and fortune to have many highlights in my career. That (the double) certainly is one that can go along with the first league title in 1980 and the European cup win which is obviously huge.”

The 65 capped former international looks at the upcoming Scottish Cup final as a chance for both teams to write themselves into the history books: “It’s a huge occasion for Hibs, it’s a great opportunity for them. How long it took them to lift the trophy in the first place, to do it so soon after would be such a fabulous achievement.

“Of course if Saint Johnstone does it with Callum Davidson in his first season, he’ll be thinking the football management gig is quite an easy one. If he could lift the double in his first season it would be quite extraordinary for him to do that.”

NE98 would like to thank Willie Miller for taking the time to speak to Keiran.

The World Cup starlet that almost graced Tayside

By Keiran Fleming

During the 1986 Mexico World Cup the eyes of the globe were on Maradona, however, there was another breakthrough star making his name on the international stage, Brazilian Josimar.

Josimar wasn’t even meant to be part of the squad, in fact he was uncapped and also unemployed when he was called up. The fullback burst onto the scene with two wonder goals.

His first was against arguably one of the most iconic keepers of all time, Northern Ireland’s Pat Jennings. Josimar picked the ball up from 30 yards out and unleashed a shot with power and accuracy over the top of the keeper into the opposite corner.

His second goal of the tournament was equally magnificent. In a moment of brilliance against Poland, Josimar received the ball on the edge of the area and easily dribbled past one opponent before cheekily fooling another with a dummy. Before reaching the byline he launched a strike, from what seemed an impossible angle, across goal into the other side of the net.

After the World Cup he rightfully took his place in the team of the competition and was named the best right back in the world by Fifa. The media in his homeland even dubbed him “The unemployed hero”. So how did the Brazillian king of Mexico almost grace Scottish football?

Well lets just say that his career peaked in 1986. The fame and spotlight had an affect on Josimar. Not long after his stunning display in Mexico he ended up in prison after hitting a prostitute. The prostitute racially abused the right back after he attempted to negotiate a cheaper price for an orgy that already happened.

After a couple years of controversy Josimar was looking for a fresh start in Europe and he wasn’t short of suitors. Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were offered the fullback along with numerous other leading European teams, however, it was Jim McLean’s Dundee United who were on the brink of signing the Brazillian.

It was so close to happening that the Glasgow Herald published an interview with then Botafogo Vice-President Emil Pinhiero who said they had received a serious bid for the right-back from Scottish Club Dundee United. A photo which was rumored to be published in a tabloid pictured Josimar in a kilt. The deal fell through. All though there is no documented reason into why the move never came about; it is widely believed that the coverage of the move in Scotland’s newspapers gave Josimar cold feet. The fact the move never happened apparently enraged Jim McLean as he was a fingertip away from putting one of the icons of the 1986 World Cup in a tangerine shirt.

The Tayside move was dead in the water but Josimar did get his move to Europe with Sevilla. Sadly the move didn’t help him control his bad habits as he was arrested for cocaine possession during his time playing in Spain.

Josimar’s career acts as a cautionary tale for those who are quickly thrown into the spotlight. He was once considered the best right-back in the world but he buried that potential in cocaine and alcohol.

Maybe if he was under the watchful eye of McLean at Tannadice he would have seen a renaissance that would have allowed to fully reach his potential. Then again some people are not built for the fame of being a footballer and his downward spiral may have just continued in Scotland.

This story does have somewhat of a happy ending. Josimar has turned his life around and is currently the assistant coach of his boyhood club Botafogo.