Back in September 2007, Scotland seemed to be on top of the world. They had went to Paris and beat the mighty French whose team included stars such as Frank Ribery, Patrick Viera, Lillian Thuram, David Trezeguet, Samir Nasri, Eric Abidal, Claude Makelele, Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Karim Benzema. Those players had/have trophy laden CVs but were humbled by a terrific team performance from a Scots side that seemed destined for better things.
Now just over five years later what happened to that Scots side?
Speedy decline seems to be a good phrase for most of those involved with the Tartan Army that night.
This week seen the SFA appoint their third manager since that evening at the Parc des Princes. They are hoping new man Gordon Strachan can get the current squad playing to a standard that resembles that of the 2007 side.
The manager who masterminded the 1-0 victory over Les Blues Alex McLeish, left the Scotland job to join Birmingham City. There he over saw two relegations to The Championship, a promotion back to the Premier league and a League Cup title. He would leave St Andrews after his second relegation and join their main rivals Aston Villa. After one largely disappointing season at Villa Park he was sacked. Now he is at Nottingham Forest in the Championship where he has won one game in his first four fixtures.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon would keep an impressive cleansheet in the famous win. He had joined Sunderland for a whopping £9m a month before the French fixture. He spent five years at the Stadium of Light and even though he did manage to impress when he played, his career stalled through a run of bad injuries. He would leave Sunderland in the summer of 2012 at the age of 30 and currently still has no new club. He will need to find new employers before he can think about adding to his 40 caps.
Back in 2007 Alan Hutton was in the middle of his best years as a footballer. With impressive displays for Rangers both domestically and in Europe, Hutton would be dubbed the ‘White Cafu’ by Rangers fans. Jose Mourinho was also a fan, as were Spurs who would fork out £9m for the right-back. Injuries, manager fallouts and the fact he can’t tackle without being reckless has seen his career deteriorate. He would follow McLeish to Villa Park but like ‘Big Eck’ he would flop at Villa. Currently back at Villa after a short loan spell at Forest. Still included in many Scots squads the right back has 28 caps.
Stephen McManus was Celtic captain in 2007. The tall centre back seemed destined to be a Scotland star for years to come. But he would leave Celtic and struggle at Middlesbrough and as it stands he only has 26 caps and doesn’t look to be in contention to add to that number. Currently on his second loan spell with Bristol City who are propping up the Championship.
In 2007 David Weir was 37. Not many would have predicted he’d play on until he was 41 and play for Scotland until 2010. A model pro and the last survivor for the Scots that made the France 98 World Cup squad. He left Everton for Rangers in January 2007 and would win three SPL titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his spell at Ibrox. He was also voted the Scottish Premier League Player of the Year in 2010 at the age of 40. He retired from playing in 2012 after winning 69 caps for his country. Now a coach with Everton.
Like Weir, Graham Alexander was a veteran in 2007. The full back was a late developer and his one and only season in the English Premier League came in the 2009/10 season when he was aged 38. His international debut came in 2002 when he was over 30. He’d go on to earn 40 caps for Scotland. The defender retired from playing in 2012, having played 837 league games and scoring an impressive 107 goals. He is currently the manager of League Two side Fleetwood Town.
At 34, Lee McCulloch is still playing. In 2007 Lee would leave the EPL joining Rangers from Wigan in a deal worth more than £1m. He would stay at Rangers after they found themselves in the Scottish Third Division in the 2012/13 season. He has 22 goals in 28 games so far this term and the Gers captain is leading by example as they get used to their new surroundings. Hasn’t been seen in a Scotland strip since 2010 and has 18 Caps to his name.
Many considered Barry Ferguson to be the best Scottish player of his generation. A midfielder who seemed calm on the ball no mater what. In the 2009/10 season whilst at Birmingham City, Ferguson would complete more successful passes than anyone else in the EPL. Truth is Fergie would never reach his full potential. Injuries and attitude issues would hamper his career. He was the countries captain in Paris 2007 but by 2009 Ferguson would be banned from representing Scotland after a late night drinking session and stupid gestures he made to the press while he was benched for a qualifier. He ended his Scotland career with 45 caps. Barry is currently on loan at League Two side Fleetwood Town after falling down the pecking order at Blackpool.
Darren Fletcher would go on to captain Scotland. He became a regular for Manchester United and was seen as a man for all the big games. He has won four league titles at Old Trafford, a Champions League winners medal, the FA Cup, two league cups and a Club World cup. At 28 Fletcher should be entering the best years of his career but unfortunately a chronic bowl illness has curtailed his career. In the past two seasons he has only managed 20 appearances for United and has just had surgery to help with his illness and will be out for the rest of this season. Its such a shame that he hasn’t had more than his 61 caps for Scotland. Hopefully he will add to them come the new season.
Midfielder Scott Brown is probably the only member of the starting eleven from the French game to still be playing at the level he was in 2007. He has had hip complaints this season but the 27 year old has still impressed for Celtic in the SPL and Champions League. He has won the SPL title twice since that night in Paris, plus a Scottish Cup, a League Cup and the Players player of the year award. Since 2005 he has represented Scotland 29 times.
The midfield against the French also had Paul Hartley in it. The man of many clubs and positions was in the best form of his career around 2007 and deserved his place in the side. He had a bit of guile, lots of determination and would run his legs into the ground. Hartley would enjoy two successful seasons at Celtic Park, helping the Hoops win the SPL in 2007 and 2008. He would be released by the clubs new manager Tony Mowbray in the summer of 2009. He’d spend only one season with Championship side Bristol City before returning to Scotland to sign for Aberdeen. After one year with the ‘Dons’ Hartley would go on to manage Alloa Athletic and would guide them to the Third Division title in his first year as manager. He managed to play 25 times for the Scots national side.
Up top Scotland had the talismanic figure of James McFadden. He would score the wonder goal in the 64th minute that would dump France in front of their own fans. That goal was the stuff of dreams for the Scottish nation. The maverick star would also seem to be the player that the Tartan Army would look to for inspiration. Unfortunately McFadden would suffer an anterior cruciate ligament injury in August 201o and hasn’t been the same since. He’d spend most of the 2011/12 campaign back at Everton but he struggled to get into the Toffees side playing just 8 times. This summer again saw James hunting for a new club. He would end up at Sunderland but has again struggled to regain fitness and get games under his belt. It seems a shame but at 29 his best footballing years seem to be behind him. Not likely at the moment that he will add to his 48 caps or 15 goals for Scotland.
On the bench that night Scotland had…
Allan McGregor: Now the undisputed Scotland number one. Like Ferguson he was banned for life from playing for the Scots in 2009 but all has since been forgiven. After spending most of his career at Ibrox, McGregor would leave Rangers in the summer of 2012 after refusing to join the new company. He is impressing in-between the sticks with Turkish side Besiktas and has 26 caps for Scotland.
Jay McEveley: Once seen as the next best thing at Blackburn, Jay never reached his potential. The defender would have a few decent seasons at Derby which meant he’d get three caps for Scotland. Since 2007 he has turned out for five different clubs. Currently with League One side Swindon Town.
Stephen Pearson: Like many on this list Pearson was seen as the future of Scottish football, and like most on here he has never lived up to the hype. He was great alongside McFadden at Motherwell and would have some decent games whilst at Celtic. But since his move to Derby in 2007 Pearson’s career has stalled. Currently at lowly Bristol City, Pearson will look back at his career and wonder what could have been. He managed to play 10 times for Scotland.
Gary Caldwell: Managed to score the winner in the game between the Scots and France at Hampden. Had a successful spell at Parkhead, winning various titles with Celtic. In 2010 he would join Wigan in the EPL and become a star for the side. Still prone to the odd mistake but he has become vital player for both club and country. He has 53 caps and looks likely to add a lot more under Strachan.
Shaun Maloney: Like Caldwell, Maloney is seen as a good first team talent at Wigan. The versatile player has overcome a few injuries and disappointing spells at Aston Villa and Celtic to regain his form. The 29 year old has just signed an extension to his Wigan contract and will want to add to his 24 caps.
Gary O’Connor: At 29 the striker should be heading into his prime years as a footballer. He would go on to have two spells in Russia, disappointing moves in England and a return to Hibs. He is currently without a club and is once again facing drugs charges. Has 16 caps and 4 goals.
Kris Boyd: The SPL’s all time leading goalscorer would leave Rangers in 2010 after getting 101 goals in 143 SPL matches. In the next two and a half years Boyd would find himself at four different clubs. At Middlesborough he couldn’t fit into their system, at Forest they couldn’t afford his wage, at Eskisehirspor they refused to pay his wage and at the Portland Timbers the striker would be more known for selling beds than scoring goals. Today the hitman was released by the MLS side as they paid up his contract. So is now without a club. He would enter the international wilderness after declaring himself unavailable for selection while George Burley was in charge of the national team. He came back under Craig Levein but he failed to impress. Has 7 goals in 18 games for the Scots side.
So there you go after one of our best results ever, too many of the squad would go on and flounder. A few would retire and a few would do well but most of this generation completely failed in reaching their potentials.
Good luck to Gordon Strachan. Hopefully he can get more from this generation!
Posted on January 17th, 2013 by scott
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