Not because the World Cup in 1998 when the Tartan Military descended on France have Scottish followers had the possibility to see their nation on the largest stage.
“I’ve by no means skilled Scotland qualifying for a event so each single marketing campaign that comes round I dream of that feeling when it’s lastly clinched,” stated Laura Brannan a self-confessed “proud however tortured” member of the Tartan Military. “It could imply every little thing to recover from the road and be invited to the occasion for as soon as.”
An enormous hurdle stays in Belgrade in opposition to a Serbia facet ranked 15 locations above Scotland within the FIFA rankings and boasting a facet containing the likes of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ajax’s Dusan Tadic.
Nevertheless, an eight-game unbeaten run over the previous yr has restored hope amongst Scotland followers that a proficient squad, crammed with confirmed Premier League performers reminiscent of Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney and Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, can finish the lengthy wait.
“That dream is all the time there while you begin out a marketing campaign, you suppose that is going to be the one,” stated Scotland supervisor Steve Clarke.
Clarke’s typically dour manner in public belies a spirit of perception he has harnessed since taking cost after the wreckage of a Three-Zero defeat in Kazakhstan in March 2019.
“Perhaps earlier than we had been taking care of ourselves,” stated Ryan Fraser, who will miss Thursday’s conflict by way of damage, after scoring the winner in opposition to the Czech Republic within the Nations League final month.
“Now we have got that morale and togetherness that if somebody makes a mistake you bail them out as a result of they’ll bail you out subsequent time.
“There isn’t any cliques or little teams. Everyone seems to be smiling once more and everybody needs to come back away and play for Scotland.”
‘Simply our luck’
There have been transient moments to saviour amid Scotland’s largely torturous 20 years of failure.
Well-known victories house and away in opposition to France had been nonetheless not sufficient to succeed in Euro 2008 with world champions Italy additionally in a devilishly tough group.
England and the Netherlands had been additionally crushed in playoffs for Euro 2000 and 2004 however Scotland had been defeated over two legs.
But embarrassing defeats had been extra widespread. Twice in Tbilisi to Georgia, in Macedonia and the debacle of Kazakhstan, plus attracts in Moldova and the Faroe Islands.
Of UEFA’s 55 nations, solely 19 have failed to succeed in a serious event since Scotland final did.
“There’s a entire era who’ve simply by no means skilled a serious event and what it is like,” stated Anthony Joseph, Sky Sports activities journalist and member of the Portlethen Tartan Military.
The carrot for qualification is even higher as Scotland would host two of their three group video games at Hampden ought to they attain Euro 2020 and the event proceed as deliberate in 12 international locations throughout the continent.
But, there’s additionally remorse that for one of many greatest matches in a long time, no travelling followers will be capable to go to Belgrade, whereas at house followers can not even collect to observe in pubs and houses because of coronavirus restrictions.
“We are able to’t share this expertise with our family and friends, within the pubs and on the street, celebrating the way in which a 22-year-end deserves,” added Brannan.
There may be even doubt over whether or not supporters can be allowed to attend of their normal numbers come the finals in June and July.
“It could simply be our luck that we qualify and two of our video games are at Hampden and we can not go,” stated Joseph.
“It may be an actual disgrace if followers cannot go as a result of the Tartan Military would convey a lot to a serious event. It could imply the world.”