KEVIN Gallacher has told Scotland’s players they are set for one of the highlights of their careers if they qualify for Euro 2016.
Gallacher played for Scotland when they last reached a major tournament at the 1998 World Cup and the former Blackburn striker scored six goals on route to qualification.
Scotland host Poland tomorrow in what could prove a decisive match in the race for third place and a play-off spot in Group D.
Defeat at Hampden Park would end Scotland’s hopes of progress, given the Republic of Ireland are four points clear with two games to play, but a draw could yet be enough.
Gordon Strachan’s side are likely to beat Gibraltar in their final match while the Republic of Ireland face Germany before a tough trip to Poland last up.
“It’s been a long while since we made it,” said Gallacher, who was speaking at the filming of the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show. “The 1998 World Cup was the last time and it just makes the desire stronger for Scotland to finally get to a major tournament.
The 1998 World Cup was the last time and it just makes the desire stronger for Scotland to finally get to a major tournament.Kevin Gallacher
“The quality we had in that group of players was high in 1998 and it shows it’s very difficult to qualify for a major tournament. It shows how well we did to make it. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career, to be part of that World Cup, and I’m sure it would be for these boys. To get six goals in the campaign for myself was fantastic to help the boys qualify. A lot of people were writing us off because we had a tough group with Sweden and Austria, but when we did it, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
Scotland have failed to reach any of the last four European Championships. Gallacher believes qualifying for next summer’s tournament would not only be a major boost for the senior side, but would inject fresh impetus in the lower levels too.
“It’ll have a massive impact,” Gallacher said. “Scottish football doesn’t have major competitions and they don’t have the money to help grass-roots develop. Every international competition that goes by every two years, it’s two years of major income the SFA can’t put towards bringing through younger players and helping lower level football.”
Scotland held Poland to a 2-2 draw last year and endured narrow defeats to Germany but it was a 1-0 loss against Georgia last month that was most damaging.
“I would say go out and play with belief,” Gallacher said.
“They’ve got a very good chance. Their performances against Germany and Poland at the start of the campaign – if they can repeat those performances, there could be an opportunity against Poland.
“A point is not disastrous but then you’re relying on results with Ireland and you can’t always rely on other teams like that.”