The Andy Roxburgh Years (1986-1993)

After Alex Ferguson resigned as Scotland manager, the favourites to take over were Billy McNeill who was at Manchester City, and Jim McLean at Dundee Utd. On 16th July 1986 the shock appointment was Andy Roxburgh, who was the director of coaching at the SFA, and unknown to most of the Scotland fans. As his assistant, Craig Brown from Clyde was appointed.

Roxburgh's first task as manager was the Euro '88 qualifiers and Scotland made a poor start which saw them only get 4 points out of the first 10. These matches were goalless draws at home to Bulgaria and away to Republic of Ireland, and a 3-0 win at home to Luxembourg, before a 1-0 home defeat to Republic of Ireland. Scotland then went 12 years without losing a competitive game at home. In the away match to Belgium, Scotland were thrashed 4-1 with Paul McStay scoring the consolation goal. The 1987 Rous Cup followed with Scotland getting a 0-0 draw with England before they were defeated 2-0 by guests Brazil. The new season started with a 2-0 victory over Hungary in a friendly, with Ally McCoist scoring his first two goals for Scotland. Scotland then gained two very good results in the qualifiers; firstly a 2-0 home win over Belgium, with McCoist and McStay the scorers. In the following game Scotland won 1-0 away in Bulgaria thanks to a late Gary Mackay goal. That victory also gave Republic of Ireland qualification in Bulgaria's place. The campaign finished with a disappointing goalless draw in Luxembourg.

Kenny Dalglish holds off a Luxembourg player in a Euro Qualifier that was the last of his 102 caps.

When the 1990 World Cup qualifiers came around, Scotland were drawn in a very hard group, in which Scotland would be considered third favourites. Scotland started with a 2-1 win away to Norway, and that was followed by a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia at Hampden. The next qualifier was away to Cyprus and in a controversial match it was 2-2 until six minutes into injury time Richard Gough scored the winning header for Scotland. After the match there were riots and the East German referee was attacked. The next visitor to Hampden was group favourites France and a double by Mo Johnston on a wet evening gave Scotland a famous 2-0 victory. Johnston opened the scoring with a spectacular overhead kick in the next qualifier against Cyprus that was won 2-1, with Ally McCoist scoring the second goal. After five games Scotland had nine points out of ten and Mo Johnston had scored six times. Yugoslavia were second with eight points, but Norway and France only had four points, and with the top two qualifying, Scotland were almost there. The day before Scotland played Yugoslavia, Norway and France drew 1-1 meaning that Scotland only needed one point from their last three games to qualify. Scotland took the lead away to Yugoslavia, but in a space of ten minutes, they totally fell apart conceding three goals, two of which were own goals to loose 3-1. A month later in Paris Scotland were beaten convincingly 3-0. In the final mach at home to Norway, Ally McCoist lobbed Erik Thorstvedt just before half time to put Scotland 1-0 up. In the last minute a shot from the halfway line beat Jim Leighton to make it 1-1 and make most of Hampden very nervous at the end, until the final whistle blew and Scotland had qualified for the finals.

Ally McCoist lobs Erik Thorstvedt to score the goal that took Scotland to Italia '90.

In the build up to the finals, Scotland had some poor results, with the only exception being a famous 1-0 victory over World Champions Argentina at Hampden thanks to a goal from full-back Stuart McKimmie. When the draw for the finals was made, things looked very promising for Scotland as they were grouped with Brazil, Sweden, and unknown Costa Rica. Scotland's opening match was against Costa Rica, who only qualified because Mexico were disqualified. In what is probably the most humiliating result in Scotland's history, they were defeated 1-0. The headline in the Daily Record the next day was “Stop The World We Want To Get Off!” The following match was against Sweden, who won England's qualifying group. Stuart McCall gave Scotland an early lead, and seven minutes from time Roy Aitken was brought down in the penalty area and Mo Johnston scored the penalty. Two minutes later Sweden pulled a goal back to make it a nervy last five minutes, but Scotland held on for a 2-1 win. In the final game both Scotland and Brazil only needed a point to qualify. Things were going to plan until the 82nd minute when Jim Leighton spilled a shot that was narrowly tucked in by Muller. In the 90th minute Taffarel made a point blank save from Mo Johnston to prevent Scotland from getting the point they needed. As 16 teams qualified from six groups, four of the six third placed teams would qualify. The day after the Brazil game, a last minute goal by Uruguay against South Korea meant that they qualified in third place in Group E, and a 1-1 draw between Holland and Republic of Ireland meant that they both qualified with England in Group F, therefore Scotland were one of the two third placed teams that did not qualify.

The Scotland team line up before the Brazil game, which they lost 1-0.

The first game of the Euro '92 qualifiers was at home to a favoured Romania side, but goals from John Robertson and Ally McCoist gave Scotland a 2-1 victory. In the following game a John Robertson penalty and a Gary McAllister goal were enough for a 2-1 home win over Switzerland. When Scotland travelled to Bulgaria, Ally McCoist gave them an early lead, but Bulgaria equalised 16 minutes from time with a deflected shot to earn a 1-1 draw. In the return game at Hampden John Collins scored with six minutes left to put Scotland ahead, but a minute from time Bulgaria equalised for the game to end 1-1. Scotland’s next outing was to the tiny republic of San Marino, situated in the north of Italy, who were playing in their first tournament. A Gordon Strachan penalty and a Gordon Durie header gave Scotland a 2-0 win. In the following game away to Switzerland, a win would guarantee qualification for Scotland, and a draw would still put them in a strong position. Things didn’t start well for Scotland as they went 2-0 down at half time. Gordon Durie pulled one back at the start of the second half, and seven minutes from time Ally McCoist completed a great fightback to earn a 2-2 draw. Away to Romania Scotland lost their first and only game of the qualification campaign 1-0 due to a Hagi penalty. In Scotland's final match they won 4-0 at home to San Marino with goals from Paul McStay, Richard Gough, Gordon Durie and Ally McCoist; but qualification was still undecided. On the same day, a win for Switzerland over Romania would have meant qualification for Switzerland, but they lost 1-0. Then a week later Romania needed to beat Bulgaria by 2 goals, but a 1-1 draw saw Scotland through to the finals for the first time, with the help of Bulgaria, whose hopes were ended by Scotland four years ago.

Ally McCoist takes on Nikolay Iliev of Bulgaria during the 1-1 draw at Hampden Park.

The draw for the finals couldn't have been any harder as they were drawn with the World Champions Germany, the current European Champions Holland, and the Olympic Champions USSR. Towards the end of the qualification campaign, there had been political unrest in USSR, with various republics gaining independence. There was a doubt if USSR would participate, and if they didn't, Italy would take their place, but they did participate but under the name of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

In Scotland's first game they held Holland until fourteen minutes from time when Dennis Bergkamp beat Andy Goram to give Holland a 1-0 win. But Scotland's hopes were high after a good performance. In the next game against Germany, German keeper Illgner made three saves in the first fifteen minutes, but after 28 minutes Riedle put Germany ahead. A minute into the second half a deflected cross from Effenberg lobbed Andy Goram and put Germany 2-0 up. Moller and Hassler hit the post for Germany and Scotland came close with a Richard Gough header, but Scotland could not score and were unlucky to loose the game 2-0. That result ended Scotland's chances of qualifying for the next round. In the final game against CIS, a shot from Paul McStay hit the post and hit off the back of Kharin in the CIS goal to give Scotland a 1-0 lead after only six minutes, but the goal was awarded to McStay. Eleven minutes later Brian McClair scored his first goal for Scotland to make it 2-0. Seven minutes from the end, the tie was settled when Pat Nevin mas tripped in the box and Gary McAllister scored the resulting penalty kick to give Scotland a 3-0 win. Even although Scotland went out, they gained a lot of admirers, and the fans that received a lot of praise, won an award for fair play.

Stuart McCall runs past Steffan Effenberg of Germany in the match Scotland lost 2-0 in the Euro '92 Finals.

The qualifiers for USA '94 started away to Switzerland and Scotland went behind after only seventy seconds, but Ally McCoist equalised eleven minutes later. The Swiss scored twice in the last twenty minutes to win 3-1 in a match, which saw Richard Gough sent off for catching the ball. Scotland's next two games were at home to Portugal and Italy, and both ended goalless. When Malta visited Ibrox, as work was being done at Hampden, a McCoist double and one from Pat Nevin gave Scotland a 3-0 win. Scotland's next qualifier was at Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light) in Lisbon, but it was a very dark day for Scotland. Portugal took an early lead after five minutes, which was doubled just before half time. Then in the space of five minutes, Scotland fell apart and conceded three goals to go 5-0 down. Just to rub salt into the wounds McCoist was stretchered off late on with a broken leg, but Scotland had already used their two substitutes. A fight between Roxburgh and Gough after the match saw Gough quit the national team. That result had all but ended Scotland's chances of qualification, but Scotland fought on and gained wins over Estonia, 3-0 away and 3-1 at home. In the game at home to Switzerland, Scotland needed to win for it to remain mathematically possible to qualify. A 1-1 draw with goals from John Collins and Bregy, ended Scotland's chances of qualifying. After the match SFA Chief Executive Jim Farry stated that Andy Roxburgh's job was secure, but a few days later on 11th September 1993 Andy Roxburgh resigned.

Ally MCoist and Andy Egli of Switzerland both challenge for the ball in Scotland's 3-1 defeat in Berne.