IT ALL began amidst a wave of apathy as a crowd of around 8,000 spread themselves around the old Hampden for the opening fixture of the 1989 FIFA Under-16 World Cup between Scotland and Ghana but that emotion had morphed into jingoistic euphoria ten days later when over 30,000 fans squeezed into Tynecastle to watch them win their semi-final against a Portugal side featuring a young Luis Figo.
The Scots took their place in the Hampden final on 24 June against a Saudi Arabian side which featured a number of players whose mature looks and physical stature cast doubts upon their right to participate, but few in the 51,674 crowd appeared concerned about the facial hair and bulging muscles amongst the Middle Eastern "youngsters" as first-half goals from Ian Downie and Paul Dickov put Scotland in command. A missed penalty by Brian O'Neil, allied to two second-half strikes from the visitors, however, resulted in extra time and penalties with the Saudis winning the shoot-out 5-4.
Twenty years on, that Under-16 team remains the only Scottish side to have ever come within touching distance of a World Cup at any level but the conversion rate of promising youngster to consummate professional has been disappointingly low.
Only three of those in the final made the leap to full international status and, of the others, few have provided any notable impact on the senior game. Striker Paul Dickov proved to be the pick of the bunch, making 22 appearances for Arsenal before going on to play for Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City and winning ten full Scotland caps.
Two of Dickov's Highbury team mates at the time, Jim Will and Scott Marshall, were integral parts of Craig Brown's side but goalkeeper Will realised the enormity of the task he faced in displacing David Seaman and joined Dunfermline. He later became a constable with Grampian Police.
Marshall made his debut for Arsenal at 19 and played for Southampton, Brentford and Wycombe as well as joining Celtic on loan. He is now youth coach at Brentford.
Brian O'Neil progressed to the full Scotland team, winning seven full caps during a career which saw him play for Celtic, Aberdeen, Derby County and German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.
Of the four Dundee United players in the final, midfielder Andy McLaren was the only one who made it to full international level, winning a solitary cap amidst a career blighted by stories of drug taking and alcoholism. McLaren left Tannadice for Reading, followed by a spell at Kilmarnock but his career ended at Dundee, where his contract was terminated after he managed to collect three red cards during a game against Clyde.
Gary Bollan spent six years with United before moving to Rangers, St Johnstone and Livingston.
Bollan became head of youth development at Clyde but was released earlier this year in the light of the Bully Wee's financial difficulties.
The two other Dundee United starlets, defender Tom McMillan and striker John Lindsay both ended up at Arbroath before quitting the game. McMillan started a building company while Lindsay took a job with Tesco.
The Under-16 side's captain, Kevin Bain, soon graduated to Dundee's first team. He then moved south to Rotherham and also played for Stirling Albion, Brechin City (winning the Third Division title in 2002), Peterhead and East Fife. After retiring from the game, he pursued a career in financial services.
Celtic S Form signing Jim Beattie moved to St Mirren and also played in Finland before beating Hodgkins Disease and going on to make a living as a taxi driver.
Aberdeen's Ian Downie played for Dunfermline, Forfar and Arbroath before becoming a postman in Kirkcaldy while Morton's Kevin McGoldrick quit football at 19 to work in an Inverclyde tannery.
Midfielder Neil Murray scored for Rangers in the 1993 Scottish Cup final and is now a sports management consultant.
Scotland team: Will, Bain, Beattie, Marshall, McMillan, Bollan, O'Neil, Lindsay, Downie, Dickov, McGoldrick. Subs used: McLaren, Murray.