Steve Clarke had to hold back the tears as he appeared in front of the press after that memorable evening in the Belgrade rain.
The coach of the Scottish national team had just achieved great things: 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 as a co-host – the group will compete in Glasgow with the Czech Republic and Croatia, as well as England in neighboring England in London.
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 Derby County goalkeeper David Marshall scored a decisive penalty from the line and Scotland broke into collective cheers.
Scotland had ended “22 years of pain”, cheering “The Scotsman” newspaper. The last major tournament for the British part of the country with about 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 of the 2018–19 group winners. And in the deciding game against the Serbs, the win was at the edge of a knife. After the lead (52nd), Clarke’s team scored an equalizer in the 90th minute and had to go through extra time and penalty shoot-outs.
“Usually we fail at the last hurdle,” Clarke said. 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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