The Berti Vogts Years (2002-2004)

After Craig Brown, Scotland looked to follow England's example and appoint a foreign manager, due to the success of Sven Goran Eriksson. The front-runner was former German manager Berti Vogts who won Euro '96 in his reign. Vogts though was currently manager of Kuwait, and the SFA had to negotiate with their FA to terminate his contract. After negotiations, Vogts was free to take over as Scotland manager on 1st March 2002.

Vogts had little knowledge of the Scottish game, therefore Tommy Burns was recruited as his assistant. Unlike previous managers, he had no knowledge of the pool of players, therefore he searched the English Premiership for players who were eligible to play, and many of the players that he recruited were unknown to the Scottish fans as they did not play any first team football. They were players such as Kevin Kyle, Michael Stewart, Paul Devlin, and Robbie Stockdale; and at the end of Vogts' reign, not many of these players were still playing for Scotland. He also persuaded captain Paul Lambert to come out of international retirement.

His first game in charge couldn't have been any harder, World and European Champions France in Paris, and the Scotland team showed their inexperience, as they were defeated 5-0. In Vogts' first six matches in charge, Scotland lost five and their only victory was against a Hong Kong XI.

France celebrate after scoring against Scotland in Berti Vogts' first game as manager.

When the qualifying campaign for Euro 2004 started, things got worse as Scotland went 2-0 down in the Faroe Islands after only 12 minutes. In the second half Paul Lambert and Bary Ferguson scored to gain a 2-2 draw. After the match defender David Weir publicly criticised the manager before he quit the national team. The next match was away to Iceland, and in a match that Scotland were not favourites, they won 2-0 with goals from Christian Dailly and Gary Naysmith. In the return match at Hampden, Kenny Miller and Lee Wilkie scored to win 2-1. Four days later, a poor refereeing decision let Lithuania score the winner from the penalty spot in a 1-0 defeat. In the next qualifier, group favourites Germany visited Hampden, and Kenny Miller equalised a Fredi Bobic goal to gain a 1-1 draw. A 3-1 home win over the Faroe Islands followed, before the away match in Germany. Bobic and Ballack put the Germans 2-0 up before Neil McCann pulled one back for the match to finish 2-1, with Maurice Ross being sent off for Scotland. In the final group match against Lithuania, the winner and only goal was scored by substitute Darren Fletcher, on his second appearance to take Scotland to the play-offs.

Gary Naysmith celebrates scoring the second goal in the 2-0 victory away to Iceland.

In the play-offs, Scotland were drawn against the mighty Holland, with the first leg at Hampden. After 22 minutes, a James McFadden shot from the right, took a deflection off Frank de Boer to put Scotland ahead after 22 minutes. For the remaining 68 minutes Scotland prevented the Dutch from scoring to record one of their greatest ever victories that shocked the rest of Europe. In the four days between both legs, the Dutch press were brutally criticising the team and manager Dick Advocaat, and the criticism worked as in the second leg, Holland destroyed Scotland in a 6-0 mauling. Scotland were well and truly put in their place, and again they would not be participating in a major finals.

Things did not get any better in the following matches as Scotland were humiliated 4-0 by Wales and lost a handful of friendlies including a 3-0 defeat at home to Hungary. At this time pressure was on the SFA to sack Berti Vogts, but they decided to stick with him. Before the World Cup qualifiers started, Scotland put in a good performance away to Spain to gain a well-earned 1-1 draw in a match that was abandoned after an hour, due to a floodlight failure. When the qualifiers started they began with a poor 0-0 draw at home to Slovenia, followed by a 1-0 defeat at home to Norway, their first defeat at home in a World Cup match since 1985. Four days later Scotland could only get a 1-1 draw in Moldova, which meant that with only 2 points out of 9, Scotland's qualification hopes already looked over. On 1st November 2004 Berti Vogts resigned, stating that a major factor was recent criticism and abuse that he had suffered. Tommy Burns took charge for the following friendly match against Sweden.

James McFadden celebrates scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Holland in the play-offs.