Alex McLeish believes a victory over England on Friday would be Scotland’s towering achievement in fixtures against the Auld Enemy.
McLeish, pictured, played four times against England while earning 70 caps for Scotland and finished on the winning side just once – at Wembley in 1981. Scotland hope to secure a similarly positive resultin two days’ time, when they return to the stadium in a vital World Cup qualifier.
Given three precious points are on offer, and following Scotland’s poor start to the campaign, McLeish has no hesitation in claiming a win would stand as Scotland’s greatest-ever victory over England, out-stripping even 1967’s memorable triumph over the then world champions. He said: “If Scotland could pull it off then it would be the biggest win we’ve ever had against England when you consider what is at stake and the kind of negativity since the last two qualifiers.
“The last couple of games were tough for us but what we always tend to do is savage ourselves for the next few days – and then start to talk in a positive way.
“We say, ‘Wait a minute, all hope is not lost’ and when we’re backed into a corner we can produce the best results.
“There is still plenty of time and we can get a positive result at Wembley,” he added. “Everything is in the melting pot. We’d expect England to win the group, but then it’s up for grabs.”
McLeish recalled playing in the victory at Wembley in 1981, when Scotland triumphed thanks to John Robertson’s penalty. They have won only once there since – when Don Hutchison’s header earned a 1-0 victory that was not enough to overturn a first-leg deficit in a Euro 2000 play-off.
“I remember the Wembley pitch was really sapping of energy,” said McLeish. “The pitch was really heavy and I never felt as tired coming off a pitch in my whole career as I did in that Wembley game.
“It’s more than just the pitch, the energy inside the stadium and mental energy you use playing against England will be a factor as well for our boys.
“The physical fitness goes without saying, but the mentality is going to be really important in this game.”