Scot Gemmill is relishing leading his young Scots against Brazil today, 19 years after he received an almighty snub from the planet’s most expensive player at the opening game of the World Cup.
Scotland Under-20s face their Brazilian counterparts in Fos-sur-Mer in the second game in the Toulon Tournament after losing their opener to Czech Republic, despite a double from RB Leipzig forward Oliver Burke.
Manager Gemmill’s last experience of playing Brazil was when Scotland opened the 1998 World Cup in France. He was an unused sub under Craig Brown at the time, but he was determined to land a souvenir from the occasion.
Unfortunately, his encounter was with Brazil superstar Denilson – who was the world’s most expensive player at the time after Real Betis signed him for £21.5 million.
Gemmill recalled: “I was really lucky and had a decent career and some special moments but the World Cup opener against Brazil was one of them.
“For me, the little things stayed with me. I was obviously gutted not to be involved – I was a substitute but didn’t get on, but the occasion was great.
“The bus journey to the stadium was immense. We had helicopters above the bus and that sense of occasion was enormous.
“And then you factor in Brazil and their superstars. The one other thing I remember was that Alex Miller took the unused substitutes on to the pitch after the game for a training session.
“The Brazil subs were training as well. They finished just before us and I wanted to swap a shirt so I ran as fast as I could – obviously not very fast! – up the tunnel.
“One player was just about to go in the dressing room and it was Denilson who had just signed for Real Betis.
“I said ‘Excuse me, excuse me can we change shirts?’. And he just turned round and saw this skinny little white kid and said ‘Not possible’!”
Gemmill has backed his kids today not to be overawed when they face Brazil today. The South Americans only beat unfancied Indonesia 1-0 in their first game and the former Everton and Nottingham Forest player senses his players have a real chance today of causing a shock.
He said: “Our players are really looking forward to this game. When the draw was made they were excited. It’s something Scotland players don’t often get to do.
“I can’t think of the last time we played them at youth level. It’s an unbelievable chance and the players will be up for it. I’m not concerned about them being overawed. They are at the stage of their development where they see past that and it’s about us getting our performance right.”
Kilmarnock youngster Adam Frizzell believes playing the Brazilians can only improve his game.
He said: “It will be a great experience to play against Brazil, maybe a once in a lifetime chance. But we need to put on a performance and try and win the game.”