WILLIE Miller doesn't have fond memories of the night when he helped Scotland qualify for the 1990 World Cup finals.
Team-mates were basking in the glory when the final whistle blew at the end of the 1-1 draw against Norway that November night at Hampden in 1989. But while they accepted the acclaim in front of the 61,753 crowd, Miller, the 34-year-old Aberdeen captain, was in the dressing-room undergoing treatment on a knee injury that would spell the end of his glorious career.
Selected as a sweeper behind club-mate Alex McLeish and David McPherson, Miller earned his 65th and final cap as part of manager Andy Roxburgh's five-man defence. Scotland went one up a minute before half-time through Ally McCoist, but 21 minutes into the second half, Miller's international career came to an end.
"I was hit by a late tackle that caught me on my bad knee," he later recalled. "It swelled up like a balloon. It was an accident, as the Norwegian striker did not hear the whistle – nor did I – and he followed through with a challenge. It was a career-threatening injury. I felt really down."
He was replaced by Murdo MacLeod in the 66th minute, but Erland Johnsen's late equaliser in his absence couldn't prevent Scotland from creeping over the line to finish second in the qualifying group behind Yugoslavia, a point ahead of France.
Captain of his country 11 times, Miller played in two World Cups, but didn't recover in time for a third. Although he returned to the Aberdeen team in March after a 17-match lay-off, he soon suffered a relapse and couldn't regain fitness quick enough to face Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.
He was included in Roxburgh's World Cup party as part of the backroom staff, but the injury he suffered against Norway forced Miller to retire in November 1990.
Scotland (1-1 v Norway at Hampden on 15 November 1989): Jim Leighton (Manchester United); David McPherson (Hearts), Maurice Malpas (Dundee United), Alex McLeish (Aberdeen), Willie Miller (Aberdeen); Jim Bett (Aberdeen), Roy Aitken (Celtic), Paul McStay (Celtic), Davie Cooper (Motherwell); Maurice Johnston (Rangers), Ally McCoist (Rangers). Subs: Murdo MacLeod (Borussia Dortmund) for Miller 66min; Brian McClair (Manchester United) for Cooper 74min.
Scorers: Ally McCoist (44); Erland Johnsen (89).