After the two disastrous World Cup games, Scotland finally showed they really could be world-beaters. All we needed was one more goal to put us back on the path to glory, but just three minutes later a Johnny Rep thunderbolt killed the dream. A nation wept. There is a nebulous quality to confidence. Did it die along with the dream that day for Scotland’s footballers? Flashes of brilliance – like James McFadden’s winning wonderstrike against France in 2007 – aside, do our players lack the self-belief to be world-beaters ever again? Without hope, greatness is hard to achieve.
More concerning is the idea that Scotland as a nation suffers from this affliction, dubbed the “cultural cringe”. In 2004, the then First Minister Jack McConnell said this attitude must end, adding: “Poverty of ambition and poverty of expectation is the most damaging poverty of all.” To paraphrase a certain world leader, it’s time to make Scotland Gemmill again.