Five obscure European night heroes for Scottish football clubs

Craig Fowler takes a trip down memory lane to uncover some of the more obscure heroes on famous European nights for Scottish clubs.

Craig Fowler takes a trip down memory lane to uncover some of the more obscure heroes on famous European nights for Scottish clubs.

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GLYNN SNODIN (HEARTS, 1992)

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The inspiration for this list. The ex-Leeds United full-back spent only one season in Gorgie and was part of an underachieving Hearts side that went from title contenders to quitting on manager Joe Jordan in the space of a year. In the time between, he netted one of the most famous goals in Hearts’ European history.

Winning 3-2 against Slavia Prague at Tynecastle, Hearts were heading out of the Uefa Cup on away goals having lost the first leg in Czechoslovakia 1-0. Then Snoddin stepped up. Almost 30 yards from goal at a central position, the Englishman unleashed a rising effort which shot past Zdenek Janos in the away goal. There was so much power in the strike that it bounced back into play off the stanchion. Thankfully there was to be no Clive Allen-esque controversy here as Hearts progressed to the next round.

SCOTT NISBET (RANGERS, 1993)

Even though he played at Ibrox for eight years, the defender was largely used as a reverse player and would make only 90 league appearances across his stay. His name wasn’t typically among the goalscorers, though few Rangers fans who saw it will forget his physics-defying curler which gave the Ibrox side a memorable Champions League win.

Needing to better their Belgian visitors to stand any realistic chance of catching Marseille at the top of the group stage, Walter Smith’s side were drawing one each going into the final 20 minutes. It was then that Nisbet ran on to a loose ball and gave it a right good whack with his right foot. Whether he was going for goal or trying to cross, we can’t be sure, but what we do know is that his effort clipped the toe of Brugge No.6 Stéphane van der Heyden and spun into the air.

Goalkeeper Dany Verlinden was entirely flummoxed by the flight of the ball, as he danced in hesitation in his six-yard box. After initially sprinting from his line, he stopped and tried catch the ball after it bounced off the ground, only to watch in horror as it hit the deck and came back at up at a 45-degree angle. Even a last-second lunge back towards the net could do nothing to stop the ball looping over his panicked, flapping body and into the back of the net.

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JOSH WALKER (ABERDEEN, 2008)

Bayern Munich’s last trip to Scotland prior to Tuesday night’s clash with Celtic came during their 2008 run to the Uefa Cup semi-finals. On that occasion Aberdeen were the hosts and it was widely expected the gulf in class would tell on the night with Ottmar Hitzfeld’s domestic treble winners. Instead, it was the Dons who took the lead, not once but twice, as Jimmy Calderwood’s side valiantly fought their way to a 2-2 first leg draw.

It was the on loan youngster from Middlesbrough who got the scoring underway. Running on to a lay-off from Sone Aluko nearly 25 yards from goal, Walker showed composure beyond his years to calmly open himself up and pass the ball beyond Michael Rensing in the Bayern goal, taking the roof off Pittodrie in the process.

Having endured a journeyman career since that memorable night, Walker pitched up at Edinburgh City last season, where his performances were impressive enough to earn him a three-year-deal - rare for Scotland’s fourth tier - and the captain’s armband.

ROSS McCORMACK (RANGERS, 2006)

Not the most obscure of names in a Scottish football, perhaps, but definitely within the setting of which this goal occurred. It’s easy to forget that the well-travelled attacker came through the ranks at Rangers before his career really took off following a successful spell with Mark McGhee’s Motherwell. Even his goal was overshadowed by one scored by team-mate Peter Lovenkrands the following match - there’s not even footage of it on YouTube. However, the Dane would not have been in position to fire Rangers into the last 16 of the Champions League were it not for McCormack’s heroics.

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Alex McLeish’s side were trailing 1-0 to Porto in the Estádio do Dragão in the penultimate match of the group stages. Though a defeat would not have seen them eliminated from contention, it would have made things much harder going into the final games with a home contest against Inter waiting for them. McCormack, veteran of only three appearances prior to the 05-06 campaign, was sent on with the hope of salvaging something from the match, and the youngster delivered. His finish from 10 yards past Viktor Baia kept Rangers in second, which became crucial when a draw against the Italian giants in their last match was enough to see them advance.

BRIAN GALLACHER (ST MIRREN, 1985)

St Mirren fans don’t like to talk about Hammarby. This is perhaps the reason why one of the most unusual hat-tricks in the club’s history is not celebrated and revered in the manner it should have been had the end result not been so soul-crushingly heartbreaking.

Gallacher was a respectable goal threat from midfield during his four years with the Paisley club in the mid-80s, notching 16 strikes over 99 appearances in the league, and finding the back of the net in the previous round against Slavia Prague. But he wasn’t expected to take centre stage in such dramatic fashion as he did in Sweden, scoring all three of the away sides goals in a 3-3 draw which, according to Buddies boss Alex Miller, flattered the home side.

Unfortunately, that’s where the positive memories end. In the return leg, St Mirren somehow conspired to throw away their chance of reaching the third round of European competition for what would have been the only time in their history. Leading 1-0 in the dying minutes, with the advantage of away goals on their side, St Mirren conspired to lose an equaliser, be handed a get-out-of-jail-free card by the officials when a second goal was disallowed, and then give away a winning goal anyway. It left Love Street stunned and Gallacher’s efforts as little more than a footnote in this tragic tale.