If you read the title of this blog post and had no idea what it was going to be about, you obviously aren’t a Scottish football fan, and possibly not Scottish as you cannot possibly have missed this news!
Last night (Thursday), after not qualifying for a major international football tournament since the European Championships in France 1998, the Scottish mens football team qualified for the Euros 2020 (taking place in summer 2021), after an agonising 23-year absence from major men’s tournaments.
We’ve been so close to qualifying for major tournaments on several occasions over the last 23 years, only to gloriously fail at the final hurdle. So even when we got to the 89th minute of normal time and we were leading 1-0 against Serbia, in Serbia, and were fully in charge of the game, we still had our doubts that we’d qualify – We’ve learnt from our past failures not to think we’re there until the final whistle has actually been blown.
Then disaster seemed to be striking us yet again, when Serbia scored an equaliser in the 90th minute is historic and epic shootout victory over Serbia! We headed into extra time, and we looked deflated and had already substituted the players who were our best chance to score a winning goal, we were hanging on. The final whistle to bring extra time to an end couldn’t come quick enough.
When the final whistle was blown, it felt like a victory, as we were going to penalties, and we’d won the playoff semi-final on penalties against Israel – There was one problem we had to overcome, we’d substituted 3 of our regular penalty takers, so others were going to have to step up. And step up they did…5 penalties taken by Scotland, and 5 scored!
Then Serbia had their 5th penalty to take to go into sudden death in the penalty shootout – They’d saved their star striker for their 5th penalty…
He ran, struck the penalty to the bottom right of the goal, David Marshall (the Scotland goalkeeper), dive to his left, got his hand to the ball and pushed it away from goal. He saved it! But wait are they going to check if he moved off his line before the ball was kicked, he looks to the referee to confirm his save is valid, and gets the ok. We’ve done it! We’ve finally qualified for our first major tournament in 23 years!
Well done Scotland, it was a difficult watch, but you did it! What lift for the whole nation.
So we’ve made it to the Euros 2020 next summer. And who better for us to play in our first tournament in years than our auld enemy, England! – we also play Czech Republic and Croatia.
We have something to look forward to next summer. Thank you to the mens Scottish football team!