CHARLIE Adam is one of the few Scots currently playing to have scored a goal at Wembley and he intends to use the memory as an inspiration tomorrow night, when the midfielder returns to the stadium with his Scottish international team-mates.
Adam refers to Wembley as “iconic” and he was uplifted by the surroundings when he posted a man-of-the-match performance for Blackpool in a 3-2 win against Cardiff City in a play-off final in 2010 to earn his side promotion to the Premier League. All five goals were scored in the first-half, including his stunning free-kick equaliser to make it 1-1.
“There was pressure,” recalled Adam. “People say it is the richest game in football but on the day we went behind and we came back and then went behind again. But we managed to get in at 3-2 and the rest is history.
“It was a massive day for us as a club as probably nobody expected us to get to the final and the Premier League. We missed staying up in the next season by a point or so and that was disappointing. Wembley is one of the best stadiums in the world and there has been some great games there and hopefully Wednesday night will be no different.”
“Of course, it is one of the most iconic stadiums in the world,” he added. “The atmosphere is different now from before, I don’t think there is the same atmosphere as there was.
“The majority of stadiums nowadays are like that because of the way they are built. When there are 20,000 Scotland fans there, there is going to be an atmosphere.
“We are looking forward to it. It should be a good game and a challenge for us. They are a good side with good players.”
Adam is very familiar with the talents of one member of the England side in particular. He rates Steven Gerrard as the best player he has ever played with. One of the consequences of Adam’s match-winning performance at Wembley for Blackpool three years ago is that it helped alert Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish to his talents, and he joined the Anfield club in July 2011 in a £6.75 million move.
However, his stay turned sour after Dalglish left the club and he moved on after barely a year to Stoke City. Adam, though, had already seen more than enough of Gerrard to know that he presents a real danger to Scotland tomorrow.
“He is the best [I have played with], without a shadow of a doubt,” he said. “He is probably one of the top players in the Premier League over the past ten years. There was a full house at his testimonial the other week and everybody at Liverpool adores him. Most importantly, he is a nice guy.”
Adam describes him as “one of the gentlemen of the game”, and he recently spent time with his former team-mate at one of Gerrard’s charity golf events in Spain. “I was fortunate enough to share a dressing room with him and see him at close-quarters,” Adam added.
“It was an honour to play beside him for a season. He is a top player, one of many that they have got.”
After hearing such glowing words about a member of the opposition, there is a danger that serves to deepen the sense that Scotland are merely making up the numbers at Wembley. However, Adam doesn’t see it this way.
“Why should we feel inferior?” he asked. “The majority of our players play against them every week. We don’t feel inferior about going to Wembley and playing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard or Wayne Rooney.
“We are going there 11 against 11 to try to win the game. The lads play against them every week in the Premier League. Yes, they are good quality players, but we have good quality players as well and many of them play in England.”