When was Scotland last in the Euros: How Craig Brown's team fared in Euro 96

Scotland’s participation in Euro 2020 is famously the first time in more than 20 years that a men’s football team from the country has reached a major tournament – but when did the Scots last play in a European Championship?

Dejection for John Spencer, Stuart McCall, and Stewart McKimmie after defeat at Wembley in Euro 96

The short answer is July 2017, which is when the women’s team reached Euro 2017, finishing third in Group D behind England and Spain and ahead of Portugal on goal difference.

The men’s European Championship has been on the go since 1960 but Scotland have qualified just twice ahead of the current edition.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Scotland's maiden appearance at the European Championship came in 1992, in Sweden. Before this they had managed a collection of third- and fourth-place finishes in qualifying.

Stuart McCall gets away from Germany's Stefan Effenberg during Euro 92

In the convoluted qualifying process for Euro 1968, Scotland finished a point behind England in the group stages – which was based on British Home Championship results – meaning they missed out on an appearance in the final qualifying stage before the tournament proper.

Euro 92

The Scots finished top of Euro 92 Qualifying Group 2 ahead of Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, and San Marino with 11 points from eight games.

In the final tournament Scotland were grouped with Germany, the Netherlands, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the transitional national team of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union in 1992.

Gary McAllister challenges England's Paul Ince for the ball during Euro 96

A narrow 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands and a 2-0 loss to Germany meant the 3-0 win over the CIS was largely immaterial, and Scotland returned home.

The Netherlands were knocked out by Denmark in the semi-finals on penalties, with the Danes going on to beat Germany in the final after the Germans had seen off hosts Sweden in the other last-four tie.

Qualifying

Scotland were drawn in Group 8 with the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greece, Russia, and San Marino. They won seven, drew two, and lost just one of their ten matches, recording home and away wins against the Faroes, the Finns, and San Marino as well as a home win against Greece, two draws with Russia, and defeat in Athens.

Ally McCoist hit the winner against Switzerland at Euro 96 but it wasn't enough

Their 23 points sealed qualification to Euro 96 as one of the best-performing group runners-up. Scotland qualified as the fourth-best runner-up behind Italy, Bulgaria, and Turkey and ahead of Denmark and France. The Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands faced off in a one-game play-off to determine the last nation to qualify with the Dutch winning 2-0.

Scott Booth and John Collins were Scotland’s top scorers during qualifying with four goals each with Ally McCoist, John McGinlay, and Billy McKinlay netting two apiece.

Euro 96

Scotland were drawn in Group A along with hosts England, qualifying Group 3 winners Switzerland, and their old Euro 92 nemesis the Netherlands. It was the first time the Swiss had featured at a European Championship but England had finished third in Euro 1968 and the Netherlands had won the competition in 1988.

England and Switzerland drew the opening game at Wembley 1-1, Alan Shearer’s 29th minute opener cancelled out by Kubilay Turkyilmaz’s late penalty.

Two days later, Scotland played the Netherlands at Villa Park and did well to hold the Dutch to a goalless draw.

The Dutch then defeated Switzerland 2-0 at the same venue, before Scotland went down 2-0 to England at Wembley in a match famous for David Seaman’s penalty save from Gary McAllister, and Paul Gascoigne’s superb solo goal and controversial celebration.

In the final round of fixtures, Scotland knew that victory against the Swiss and a win for England against the Netherlands by four goals or more would take them into the quarter-finals.

McCoist opened the scoring in the 36th minute after spurning two presentable chances but with Craig Brown’s side a goal up, news filtered through that England were four goals to the good against the Dutch thanks to braces from Shearer and Teddy Sheringham.

With time running out in both matches, things looked good for Scotland until Patrick Kluivert struck 12 minutes from time at Wembley to send the Dutch through on goal difference.

Had Scotland scored twice against Switzerland at Villa Park they would have advanced to play France in the knockout stages. The French beat the Netherlands on penalties before being knocked out via penalty shoot-out against Scotland’s Euro 2020 group opponents Czech Republic.

1996 – 2020

Scotland reached the Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 play-offs, losing to 2-1 on aggregate to England in November 1999 and 6-1 on aggregate to the Netherlands in November 2003.

On both occasions, Scotland won one of the legs 1-0.

In qualifying for Euro 2008, Scotland finished third in their qualifying group. Despite beating France at home and away, a controversial late defeat to Italy and a shocking 2-0 reversal in Georgia consigned Scotland to third, just two points behind runners-up France.

In Euro 2012 qualifying Scotland again finished third, two points behind the runners-up. A goalless draw with Lithuania in Kaunas and losing a late goal to draw against the Czechs at Hampden put paid to Scotland’s chances.

Ahead of Euro 2016 Scotland finished fourth, missing out on the play-offs by three points. Another defeat in Georgia coupled with some fine results for the Republic of Ireland against Germany – a win in Dublin and a late, late point in Gelsenkirchen – didn’t help Scotland’s cause; neither did losing another late goal at Hampden to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory, this time against Poland.

Euro 2020

In this summer's finals, Scotland will again meet neighbours England, as well as Croatia and Czech Republic.

Second place would guarantee a place in the knock-out stages but even finishing third might be enough depending on ranking.

If they finish second they will face Spain, Sweden, Poland, or Slovakia – whichever team finishes runners-up in Group E.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.