James McArthur last night insisted that beating England on their own patch would mean just as much to him as last season’s famous FA Cup triumph.
Wigan midfielder McArthur was part of the cup-winning side which shocked Manchester City at Wembley in May, and now the former Hamilton youngster is gearing up for a dream return for next month’s friendly with England.
It is the first fixture between the two countries since 1991, and midfielder McArthur reckons that a victory over the star-studded English side would be as big a feat as Wigan’s cup exploits.
McArthur said: “I’ve had great experiences at Wembley, beating Millwall and then Manchester City in the final. And I’m going back there again with Wigan the Saturday before for the Community Shield match with Man United before going there again with Scotland.
“Hopefully I can keep my good winning record up at Wembley. Winning the FA Cup was just an unbelievable day but to go there and beat England would be right up there beside it.
“We know it’s going to be really tough but I like being the underdog. What we achieved with Wigan last season in winning the cup shows you anything is possible and it gives you confidence. But I don’t think anyone needs geeing up for a Scotland-England match.”
McArthur’s joy at winning the cup was tempered by the Lancashire club’s failure to stay in the Premiership after relegation, and the 25-year-old admitted: “I had so many mixed emotions back in May. It was actually quite hard to deal with because we won the FA Cup and it took a bit of the sadness away from being relegated.
“But it still stays with you and the only way to get rid of it is to try and get the club back into the Premier League again. We never really got to savour our FA Cup win at Wembley, not until the following week. We tried to celebrate it but in the back of our minds we all knew we had been relegated and we had let everyone down so it was hard to get in the party mood.”
McArthur has always dreamt of being able to run out for Scotland against the Auld Enemy and is relishing the 14 August showdown as Gordon Strachan’s side begins the countdown to the big day. And the Glaswegian insists he’ll hold no fears on the day.
McArthur said: “One of my biggest memories as a kid was of watching Paul Gascoigne score his goal for England against Scotland at Euro 96. You grow up dreaming of being a part of it and hopefully that’s going to happen for me next month.
“I also remember listening to the second leg of the Euro 1999 qualifier and thinking we had a right chance. I’m sure that game will be getting brought up again in the run-up to this one. England are a top side and it’s going to be a tough match because they are full of quality players. But we have a good squad too and there’s competition for places now.
“It won’t faze me because I’ve become used to playing against the England players in my time down here. I’m just really looking forward to it.
“Scotland v England is such a big match and everyone will be ready to go. There’s not been much banter about it yet because we’ve been focusing on the new manager coming in and the new season starting.”