Not every single Scotland supporter recalls the country’s miraculous 1-0 win at the Stade de France in September 2007 principally for the stupendous James McFadden strike that earned it. Darren Fletcher doesn’t. For understandable reasons.
“I remember that night well... because I fractured my leg,” said the 31-year-old. “It was a really bad tackle from Patrick Vieira and I feared that I’d badly injured my knee. It turned out that I had fractured my shin and although I played on for a few minutes I couldn’t continue and went off after about 20 minutes. Then I recall Faddy’s goal and a real spirited performance. I was in the stand on crutches by the time he scored – but I’m pretty sure I still leapt about.
I have to say I was really concerned about the injury. It ended up only being a four-week injury, but at the time I really thought it could be more serious. It was a bad, bad tackle and I did have real concerns. “I left the stadium that night happy Scotland had won but worried for myself.
“I think I had a knee brace on and was on crutches so it didn’t look great. The physios had expressed a concern that there might have been some ligament damage but once the swelling settled down that wasn’t the case. It’s strange because I remember that night for two things – Faddy’s goal and my injury when others only have the goal. Looking back now I can try and forget my own worries because it only kept me out for a month. I can look back fondly on Faddy’s goal. It was a great moment to see it and one that will go down in Scottish football history.”
The fact must be faced that there is unlikely to be any sort of repeat when the teams meet in Metz on Saturday. “You learn a lot in defeat to the likes of Italy and we have to get used to playing top-class nations,” Fletcher said. “That’s the next step for us. We could definitely have done better against Italy and we have to learn how to counter teams like that. We knew it would be very difficult on a tough pitch against a tough nation. The one thing we will get is a lot of hard work from these guys and we just have to keep on trying to improve.
“They might leave us more space than Italy because they attack a bit more. Italian teams don’t concede and their first priority is to be solid. 1-0 in a game is enough for them. The French will be more flamboyant and will have runners everywhere but that’s gives us space to hit on the counter and we’ll be looking to exploit that.”