An agonising 2-2 draw in Slovenia last October meant Scottish brave hearts were once again left broken as the Tartan army fell short in their quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Two decades have now elapsed since Scotland took centre-stage at a major tournament as all of their attention now turns to qualification for the European Championships in 2020.
It seems a far cry from their consecutive British Home Championship successes in the 1960s which culminated in their famous win over England in 1967, followed seven years later by their impressive showing at the 1974 World Cup piloted by the imperious Billy Bremner.
Gordon Strachan’s resignation has paved the way for Alex McLeish to have another stab at leading his country to a major competition - the former Aston Villa and Rangers manager narrowly missed out on guiding the nation to Euro 2008 qualification, although impressive wins against the likes of France and Ukraine should not be forgotten.
Many of the squad’s elder statesmen such as Darren Fletcher and Craig Gordon are reaching the twilight of their international careers and there is a new generation of exciting youngsters waiting to reverse the nation’s luck in landing a major tournament berth. Here are three of those talented prospects that we expect to inspire Scottish football in the coming seasons.
Harry Cochrane (Hearts)
The Glaswegian shot into the limelight last December by netting the opener in Hearts shock 4-0 victory over Celtic, thus ending the Hoops 69-game unbeaten run. Despite only turning 17 in April, the babyfaced Cochrane belies his lightweight frame with his robust challenges and plays with great maturity in the centre of the park. Has already made 22 appearances in Scotland’s top division and recently signed a new contract with Craig Levein’s side, which is due to run until 2021.
Lewis Morgan (Celtic)
A barnstorming start to the season saw the St Mirren winger notch 13 goals in 26 games across all competitions and this form secured him a move to the Scottish champions in the January transfer window. Morgan was loaned back out to the Buddies for the remainder of the campaign and Brendan Rodgers will be hopeful the skilful 21-year-old can hit the ground running when he eventually dons the famous green and white hoops. Made his full international debut in last month’s 2-0 defeat to Peru.
Ross McCrorie (Rangers)
When former Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha handed McCrorie his debut last September, he proclaimed that the then 19-year-old was going to be “one of the best centre halves in history, not just for this club but for this country.” Extremely versatile and athletic, McCrorie’s loan spells in the lower leagues with Ayr and Dumbarton have prepared him for the physical demands of Scotland’s top-flight. Has been touted as a future Rangers Captain.
Aside from this trio, there is a wealth of youngsters knocking on the door of their respective clubs as they dream of making their mark on Scottish football. Scotland’s future is in safe hands and now is the time to deliver success to this passionate footballing nation which is once again on the rise. The wait will soon be over.