Scotland Euro 96 veteran has say on Uri Geller penalty claim, underground tunnel theory and 'slip' for Gazza greatness

Any thoughts of Scotland facing their bitterest rivals England - as they will for Tuesday’s friendly marking the 150th anniversary of their world-first inaugural international - and Tom Boyd’s mind is hypnotically drawn to their famous confrontation in Euro 96.
John Collins (left) and Tom Boyd hang their heads as Scotland head for defeat against the 'Auld Enemy'.John Collins (left) and Tom Boyd hang their heads as Scotland head for defeat against the 'Auld Enemy'.
John Collins (left) and Tom Boyd hang their heads as Scotland head for defeat against the 'Auld Enemy'.

Just not for the apparent hypnotics, psychic powers or whatever you want to call it, that Uri Geller said he employed to move the ball from the spot. The illusionist having claimed that, flying over Wembley in a helicopter during the encounter, he focussed his thoughts to cause Gary McAllister to have his 78th-minute penalty saved by David Seaman that prevented a Scotland in the ascendancy tying the scores at 1-1 after 78 minutes …only for a glorious goal from Paul Gascoigne in the following passage of play to condemn Craig Brown’s men to a 2-0 defeat.

Boyd, on the left of Scotland’s back three for his only appearance against England, doesn’t buy Geller’s bull. Instead, he is willing to offer his own outlandish theory over what caused his captain’s misfortune that afternoon in June 1996. “I think they probably didn’t roll the pitch…” said Boyd, seventh in the all-time list for Scotland caps with 72 to his name. “Listen, it is amazing how he claimed after the event that he knew it beforehand. If he had told someone [independent] then ‘something is going to happen that will affect the course of the game, and I’m going to make it happen and it is specifically this’, then maybe…But, no, that didn’t happen. More likely is that someone had stood on that part of the pitch at a corner or set-piece and then Gary has put the ball on there and it has just rolled off. You know, with the underground tunnel just below it…now I’m getting far fetched.”

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The former Celtic captain merely has to accept that what followed the penalty save was a moment of genius, as Scotland’s pushing for an equaliser left them vulnerable. Even if no-one could have expected Gascoigne to appear touched by the football Gods as he gloriously flicked the ball over Colin Hendry’s head and then volleyed in the dropping ball.

“I couldn’t get near Gazza,” he said. “I’d lost my pace by the time I played centre-back… It was because Colin slipped. As he was going in to close down - as he does - Gazza showed that great skill, he slipped, or I’m sure he would have got back to him. I was just a little bit too far over. You see me just coming into the corner of the picture on the footage of the goal. I think it must have been on a counter-attack for me not to be closer to Colin because we were alright. We could defend back then.”



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