Former Scotland manager Craig Brown has been speaking to Imran Azam for World Soccer ahead of tonight’s game between England and Scotland at Euro 2020. He was the man in charge the last time that Scotland managed to win at Wembley back in 1999…
What went wrong against the Czech Republic?
“International matches especially at tournament level are usually tight, cagey affairs. However, this was a very open game. Scotland created a number of excellent opportunities to score. The Czechs took their chances and that was the difference.
“We didn’t deserve to lose but didn’t do enough to win. A draw would have been a fairer outcome.
“There were plenty of positives to take from the game. It’s not as if they dominated and outplayed us. Their goalkeeper was very busy.
“I’m optimistic Scotland will still get out of the group and into the last 16 [as one of the four best third-placed teams]. But I would say that as I’m biased!”
Many Scotland supporters are urging Steve Clarke to start Che Adams and Billy Gilmour against England. Do you agree?
“The easiest team to pick is the ‘hindsight team’.
“Che came on and was very impressive. So you would be tempted to play him.
“Gilmour has a bright future ahead of him. In 1999 England had a midfield of [David] Beckham, [Paul] Ince, [Paul] Scholes and [Jamie] Redknapp. Yet the best player on the pitch was the youngest in our team – Barry Ferguson.
“The difference between the two is the experience Ferguson had amassed at 21. So you could discount Gilmour on his lack of experience but not his age.
“However it’s not for me to tell Steve [Clarke] who to pick and leave out.”
What are your memories of the 1999 Euro 2000 play-off match against England at Wembley?
“We went into the match on the back of a 2-0 defeat. But the players weren’t feeling despondent or nervous. They were confident. We won the game but ultimately they went through.
“On the field I knew we would compete against them. It was off-field matters especially ticket allocations, that were an issue. You will be surprised how many friends you have when Scotland are up against England at Wembley!
“I remember asking Colin Hendry to find out from Alan Shearer [former teammates at Blackburn Rovers] how many complimentary tickets the FA had given them? I would then tell the SFA that they needed to increase our allocation.
“I didn’t want my players to feel like they were being treated like second class citizens. I wanted them to know that they were being treated as equals if not superior.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match, what our your thoughts?
“Kieran Tierney is our best player and I’m hoping he will be fully fit. He gives you so much not just defensively but also as an attacking threat.
“Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Andy Robertson and Stuart Armstrong are all instrumental for their clubs. They are not fringe players.
“Scott McTominay knows Marcus Rashford inside out. The same applies to John McGinn when it comes to Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings. I could go on and give further examples. The Scottish boys are playing at the same level as their opponents. There shouldn’t be an inferiority complex. They will respect their opponents but won’t be intimidated by them.
“Scotland are having to travel to London from their base [north east of England]. They are the ones that will be staying in a different hotel. England have had the same routine. They have also had an extra day to recover.”
Which teams and players have impressed you so far at the Euros?
“Italy have been excellent. It’s not just their performances but their camaraderie, from the singing of the national anthem to the goal celebrations. It highlights the close bond they have with each other. It’s something I have always admired about them.
“Raheem Sterling is someone who I look forward to watching. From a Scottish perspective, the less he has the ball at his feet tomorrow the better.
“Patrik Schick is another player that has caught my eye. The execution for his second goal [against Scotland] was brilliant. However, it was just not the quality of his goals; his overall general play was hugely impressive.”
Interview by Imran Azam
How can I download World Soccer’s Euro 2020 Special?
If you want to get the inside track on every finalist at this summer’s tournament, then make sure you download a digital version of our Ultimate Euro 2020 Guide completely free of charge by clicking here. Alternatively, you can find your nearest store selling physical copies of World Soccer by clicking here.
We’ve taken a closer look at the finalists and their likely squad lists (were yet to be confirmed before publication), as well as the opinions, tactics and profiles from our global network or correspondents. You also receive a free Euro 2020 Wallchart when you pick up a physical copy of the magazine.