He was third-choice when Scotland traveled to Italy for World Cup 1990 – but Norwich City icon Bryan Gunn says Steve Clarke’s fringe players are vital to team spirit.
The likes of Declan Gallagher and Greg Taylor haven’t kicked a ball in the opening two matches at Euro 2020, in which Scotland have lost to Czech Republic and drawn with England. Former goalkeeper Gunn was behind fellow Aberdeen legend Jim Leighton and Andy Goram at 1990’s showpiece tournament, despite his form for Norwich City.
Scotland boss Clarke stated pre-tournament that some players in his squad wouldn’t kick a ball at this summer’s Euros. Gunn’s international debut against Egypt hardly helped his cause, but despite zero minutes, Gunn tells NTOF that squad players are vital in tournament football: “If Steve has explained the situation to these guys, that’s fair.
“They know where they stand. But tournament football throws up weird things. Injuries come along unexpectedly. Recovery times are less. My experience was that you go there and support the squad. I made my debut in the build-up to the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Unfortunately we got beat 3-1 off Egypt.
“I got a pass from Gordon Durie from about the halfway line and the striker noticed it. I was hoping to send it back but I ended up sending the Egyptian striker to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with a double-fisted punch to the head! He got a touch on it and it went into the net, so that wasn’t a great start. We went on to lose 3-1.
“But I always say, they were the best Egyptian team ever! You go to the tournament having had a trip before it. We went to Malta for 10 days and that was enjoyable. The spirit and the bonding all happened there. If you are the third choice goalkeeper or squad player, you have to have that enthusiasm about you. You help the guys get through.”
Scotland face Croatia on Tuesday night in the final Euro 2020 group game, a victory likely enough to see the nation into the knockout phases. Gunn hopes the current crop of Scotland players can become legends: “Everyone needs a hero and hopefully the guys in this squad can be the heroes for the future.
“We got beat off Costa Rica which was a massive shock but then we beat Sweden 2-1 to give us a chance in 1990. But we had Brazil in the final game which was a bit tricky. That’s what happens, it could be down to the last five minutes of the game. If Scotland can keep it tight, somebody might pop up with a winner.
“It’s been too long. We speak about Scotland failing to reach another tournament all the time. I think this has given the nation a lift in these pandemic times. These games have lifted the nation, even though Monday kick-off’s at 2PM don’t seem right! Hampden had an amazing atmosphere from the guys I spoke to at the Czech Republic game.
“Scotland have had some great wins at Hampden Park and hopefully the next one is against Croatia. The draw at Wembley has given the nation a lift and that’s what the national team is there for – to bring joy to people.”
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