Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scotland Greatest All-time team

Wembley Wizards

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Ireland/Northern Ireland combined team,
IrelandNorthern Ireland,
United Kingdom, Scotland World Cup 1970

Scotland was credited for spreading the game of football around the world.  Today, the Latin style of football was evolved from the short passing game of Scotland.  Charles Miller, a Scot, was said to have brought the game to Brazil.  The Argentine Football Association was founded by a Scot. 

In the beginning, Scotland almost played excursively against teams from the British isles. The Wembley Wizards was probably the first of the great Scottish sides.  They beat England 5-1 in 1928.  Scotland participated in their first World Cup Finals in 1954.  They only brought 13 players in a squad of 22.  Four years later, Matt Busby was due to manage the team, but he withdrew after suffering injuries from the Munich Air Disaster. They did not fare well in both tournaments.

From the 1970's to the early 1980's, Scottish players such as Denis Law, Billy Bremner, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness were starring in the English league and European football. Scotland qualified 5 straight WC Finals in this period.  In 1974, they went to the World Cup Finals, which turned out to be their best World Cup Finals.  They remained undefeated, but went out because of poorer goal difference.  In 1978, they had played poorly in the first two games, but beat eventual finalist Holland 3-2 on the final match.  They also went to WC Finals in 1982, 1986 and 1990, but failed to reach the second stage on each occasion.

Scotland 1978
If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  The team is not an All-Star team. I tried to be as realistic as possible.   A few of the players are selected for tactical reasons at the expense of more famous players.

GK: Jim Leighton
Jim Leighton's international career lasted for 16 years, from 1982 to 1998. He was an uncapped squad member for the 1982 World Cup. He played in all of his country's matches at the 1986, 1990 and 1998 World Cups. He is the second highest cap record holder. he played for are Aberdeen (two spells), Manchester United, Arsenal, Dundee and Hibernian.

GK:  Ronnie Simpson
Simpson was one of the "Lisbon Lions" who won the European Cup in 1967.  He also played for Queen's Park, Third Lanark and Hibernian. He represented Great Britain at the 1948 Olympics, but he did not play for Scotland until 1966.  He set a new record for being the oldest player to make his Scotland debut, aged 36 years and 196 days.  He was considered to be Celtics' best ever keeper.

GK: Andy Goram 
Goram was voted as Glasglow Rangers' greatest keeper.  He played for them between 1991 and 1999.  He played for many clubs after his career with Rangers. His international career, however, was limited due to playing at the same time as Jimmy Leighton. He was capped 43 times.  He was selected for their squads at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, UEFA Euro 1992 and UEFA Euro 1996.

RB: Danny McGrain 
McGrain was an All-time great for Celtics.  He was among the best ever rightback coming out of United Kingdom.  With Celtic, he won seven League Championships, five Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups. He spent his final season of his career with Hamilton Accies, where he helped win them promotion to the premier league. He played in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups for Scotland, captaining the side in their opening match against New Zealand at the 1982 World Cup.
Danny McGrain
RB:  Sandy Jardine
Jardine played for Rangers from 1965 to 1982.  He twice won the Scottish Football Writers Association Player of the Year award and was part of the Rangers team that won the 1971–72 European Cup Winners' Cup. He was capped 38 times.  He played another 6 seasons with Heart of Midlothian. He appeared at the WC Finals in 1974 and 1978. 

SW: Alan Hansen
Among the greatest defender ever from United Kingdom.  He won three European Cups and 8 English league titles with the great Liverpool team of the 1970's and 1980's. Despite being one pf the greatest ever centerback from the UK, Hansen only won 26 Scotland caps. The reason given for his lack of caps by Scotland coaches of the 1980s was that a formidable central defensive partnership had formed between Willie Miller and Alex McLeish at Aberdeen.  he played in the 1982 WC Finals, but he left off controversially the WC in 1986. 
Alan Hansen
CB:  Alex McLeish
Alex McLeish was known for his defensive partnership with Willie Miller and Jim Leighton that won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1983 with Aberdeen. McLeish is Scotland's third most capped player, having gained 77 international caps between 1980 and 1993. He played in three World Cup Finals with Scotland, in 1982, 1986 and 1990.

CB: Billy McNeill
As the captain of "Lisbon Lions, Billy McNeill became the first British footballer to hold aloft the European Cup, when Celtic won the Cup in 1967. He also won nine Scottish League championships, seven Scottish Cups, and six Scottish League Cups. He was voted as Cetlics' greatest captain.  He was capped 29 times for Scotland between 1961 and 1972.  He was SFWA Footballer of the Year for the 1964–65 season.

LB/CB: John Greig
Greig played his entire career with Rangers.  He was voted as the greatest Ranger ever by the fans in 1999.  He scored 120 goals for the club and won three domestic trebles. Greig actually started his career with Rangers as a forward, prior to being moved to defense. He won the 1971–72 European Cup Winners' Cup. He was capped 44 times.  He led Scotland in a famous victory over England, their first defeat as World Cup winner at Wembley. 

LB/RB/CM: Steve Nicol 
Nicol won five Football League First Division titles, three FA Cup winners medals, and the 1984 European Cup during 14 years with Liverpool. He was a versatile player who appeared in many positions. Nicol also played with Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers. He earned 27 caps and went to the Mexico 1986.

LB: Tommy Gemmell 
Tommy Gemmell was a legendary player with Celtic. He scored the opening goal for the Lisbon Lions in 1967 as Celtic became the first British club to win the European Cup trophy. He scored again at the European Cup Final in 1970 in a defeat to Feyenoord.  He also had a successful career with Nottingham Forest.  He also played for Miami Toros and Dundee. He was capped 18 times for Scotland between 1966 and 1971. 

CM: Graeme Souness
Graeme Souness played for Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough and Sampdoria, but his greatest achievement came while he played for Liverpool. He was one of the greatest ever Liverpool players.  He won three European Cups with them, captaining the team in the early 1980's.  He was also the Player-Manager for Rangers. He also earned 54 caps for Scotland. He played in 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals.
Graeme Souness
CM/LM: Jim Baxter 
Jim Baxter was the best Scottish players in the 1960's.  He was known for his performances against England at an era where England won the World Cup.  He helped Scotland beating England many times. Baxter was known for his career with Rangers.  Nicknamed "Slim Jim", he won 10 titles with them. He moved to Sunderland in 1965 and then, Nottingham Forest in 1967.

CM:  Billy Bremner
Bremner was Leeds United's greatest ever player.  He was their captain when they dominated English football.  He was also named as the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1970. He was known for his rough play. He is a member of both the English Football Hall of Fame and Scottish Football Hall of Fame. He spent 1976 to 1978 at Hull City, before being appointed player-manager at Doncaster Rovers in November 1978. He was capped 50 times. He went to the WC finals in 1974.
Billy Bremner
CM:  Paul McStay
McStay spent his entire career with Scottish team Celtic, making his debut in 1982 and retiring in 1997. He captained both Scotland and Celtic at all age levels. He was capped 76 times for his country and scored nine goals. He helped Celtic win three league titles, the last one in 1988 and remains a popular figure amongst Celtic's fans. He played over 500 games for Celtic, captaining them for many years and was considered one of the greatest players for them.

CM/DM/LB: Dave MacKay
Known for his toughness and passing abilities. He won the Double with Tottenham Hotspurs in 1961 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1963.  He was selected as one of the Football Heros stamp series to celebrate the 150 years of English FA. He also represented Scotland 22 times, and was selected for their 1958 FIFA World Cup squad. Mackay tied with Tony Book of Manchester City for the Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year award in 1969.
Dave Mackay's stamp
RW: Jimmy Johnstone
Jimmy Johnstone played over 500 games for Celtic.  In 2002, he was voted as the greatest Cetlic players ever by their fans.  He played over 500 games for them.  He was one of the Lisbon Lions that won the first ever European Cup by a British club. He later played for the San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Dundee, Shelbourne and Elgin City.  He was capped 23 times.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1974, but did not play.
Jimmy Johnstone
LW/SS: Billy Liddell 
Billy Liddell was one of the early star for Liverpool. He spent his entire career at Liverpool starting from 1938 to 1961.  He was at one point the appearance record holder for Liverpool.  He was voted the 6th greatest player for them.   He represented Scotland at international level on 29 occasions as well as for Great Britain and wartime representative side.  He was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in November 2008.

LW: Alan Morton
Alan Morton was an early star player for Scotland.  He was part of the "Wembley Wizards" after Scotland beat England 5-1 in 1928.  Between 1913 and 1920, he played for Queen's Park F.C. as an amateur. In 1920, he turned professional by joining Rangers. He won the Scottish Football League in 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931, and as a Scottish Cup winner in 1930.

AM: Alex James
James was one of the greatest player ever for Arsenal.  He is most noted as the play making lynch pin with Arsenal with whom he won six senior trophies in the first seven seasons of the 1930s. he also played for Preston Northend. For Scotland, he was known with his partnership with Hughie Gallacher. He was a member of "Wembley Wizards" that England 5-1 in 1928. However, he was only capped 8 times. 

FW: Denis Law 
Denis Law spent 11 years at Manchester United, where he scored 237 goals in 404 appearances. His goals tally places him third in the club's history, behind Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney. He partnered George Best and Bobby Charlton at Manchester United, which was considered to be most popular forward line in British history.  It was know as the "United Trinity" or the "Holy Trinity". He was capped 55 times.  He managed to play in the 1974 World Cup Finals.
Denis Law
ST: Hughie Gallacher
Hughie Gallacher is one of the Scotland 's most prolific goalscorers with 24 goals from his 20 internationals, a remarkable strike rate of more than a goal a game. Gallacher was one of the Wembley Wizards who beat England 5–1 at Wembley Stadium in 1928. He played for many clubs, but he was probably remembered for playing for Newcastle United, Chelsea and Derby.  He scored over 450 goals while playing in the English league during the 1920's and 1930's.  

ST: Kenny Dalglish 
King Kenny was the greatest player for Liverppol in an era where Liverpool was considered to be among the greatest club sides in history.  He won three European Cups with them. He is the cap record holder and their top ever scorer for Scotland. Dalglish won the Ballon d'Or Silver Award in 1983, the PFA Player of the Year in 1983, and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1983. In 2006 he topped a Liverpool fans' poll of "100 Players Who Shook the Kop".
Kenny Dalglish 

Honorable Mention
Bobby Murdoch, Joe Jordan, Gordon Strachan, Gordon Smith, Willy Miller, Alan Brazil,  Jimmy Mcgrory, Gordon McQueen, Eric Caldow, Gary McAllister, Bobby Walker, David Meiklejohn, Richard Gough, Mo Johnston, Alex Young, George Young, Archie Gemmill, Jimmy McGrory, Peter Lorimer, Steve Archibald, Ally McCoist, Willie Woodburn, Bobby Lennox.

Squad Explanation  
-- Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen, Jimmy Johnstone, Dave MacKay, Denis Law, Hughie Gallacher and Alex James are automatic selection.  No explanation is needed.
-- Most players are from before the 1990's.  Scotland produced many great footballers before that period.  However, they were not so lucky in major tournaments such as the World Cup Finals and the European Championship.  Unlike my selection of other national teams, I selected a lot of players based upon club achievements. Their players' achievements were much better than national team performance.
-- This is one of my oldest team. Born in 1964, Paul McStay is the youngest player.  Scotland went to the 1998 World Cup Finals, but no one was selected from that team. McStay and Alex McLeish went to the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.
-- England got Gordan Banks and Peter Shilton.  North Ireland got Pat Jennings and Wales with Neville Southall. Scotland, on the other hand, lacked an iconic goalkeeper. I selected Jim Leighton as my number one because I had a long career. I rewarded him on the team. Born in 1964, Andy Goram is the youngest player selected. 
-- From the "Lisbon Lions", I took Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone, Ronnie Simpson, Billy McNeill and Tommy Gemmell. The victory was probably Scotland's highest moment in football after the War.
-- I selected a lot of players from Liverpool of the late 1970's and 1980's.  Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish were the backbone of the greatest club team of their generations, but Scotland failed to advance out of group stage at the World Cup Finals of 1978 and 1982.
-- I tried my best to add players from "Wembley Wizards". They were Scotland's highest point as a national team.  The three players selected are Hughie Gallacher, Alex James and Alan Morton.
-- Steve Nicol was the big surprise, especially I did not take Eric Caldrow and George Young.  I took him for his versatility. 
-- I was a fan of Alan Brazil when I was a kid, but he was not considered. Gordon McQueen was also my idol.  Both were selected into honorable mention.
-- The four centerbacks selected all played well for club football in Europe.  They contributed to the successes of Liverpool, Rangers and Aberdeen respectively. I would like to reunite Alex McLeish with Willy Miller of Aberdeen, but it was hard to drop any of the other centerbacks I have selected.  In fact, Alan Hansen whom I considered to be among the greatest ever from the United Kingdom was often ignored by Scotland.  Scotland preferred to use club teammates McLeish and Miller.  In the end, I only took McLeish. I took
Billy McNeill the captain of Lisbon Lions and Jim Greig who was voted as the greatest ever Ranger.
-- Willie Woodburn's status is affected by his discipline record and lifetime ban. He only made honorable mention.
-- Dave Mackay was selected as one of the Football Heros stamp series to celebrate the 150 years of English FA.  
-- Billy Bremner was named as the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1970. 
-- With Billy Liddel and Alan Morton on the team, I have no space for Bobby Lennox.
-- Billy Liddell was one of the early star for Liverpool. He spent his entire career at Liverpool starting from 1938 to 1961.  He was at one point the appearance record holder for Liverpool.

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-4-2
The formation is a classic British 4-4-2.  I dropped Denis Law for Alex James.  I am a big fan of Dave Mackay so he started over Bremner.  I do not have a preference between Billy McNeill and Joghn Greig.

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