Steve Clarke had to wipe tears as he came to the press after that memorable evening in Belgrade rain.
Great things were achieved by the coach of the Scottish national team: with a dramatic 5: 4 on penalties against Serbia, the Bravehearts qualified for the European Football Championship the following summer. First major tournament in 23 years. And he will – as a co-host – match up against the Czech Republic and Croatia in Glasgow, as well as a duel with England in neighboring England.
Now Clarke, who was not bothered by the saddle of his tree trunk, stood in front of the cameras with intermittent voices. “There was a little sparkle in my eyes. But I managed to control my emotions, ”he described the moment of victory. The moment when English 2nd Division club Derby County goalkeeper David Marshall scored a decisive penalty from the line and the Scotland collective broke into cheers.
Scotland had finished “22 Years of Pain”, cheering the newspaper “The Scotsman”. The last major tournament for the British part of the country, with around 5.5 million inhabitants, was the 1998 World Cup in France. The Scots also initially failed in this European Championship qualification, only qualifying through the playoffs for the 2018–19 group winners of the United Nations. And in the deciding game against the Serbs, the victory was at the edge of a knife. After the lead (52nd), Clarke’s team scored an equalizer in the 90th minute and went through extra time and penalty shoot-outs.
“Usually we fail at the last hurdle,” Clarke said. The fact that it worked ensured the players danced in the dressing room and at least midfielder Ryan Christie did a tearful interview after the game. And Clarke also announced: “Maybe I’ll cry when I’m in my room later.”
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