SIMON DONNELLY believes the Celtic connection will be crucial for Alex McLeish as he attempts to revive Scotland as an international force.

The former Hoops striker was one of EIGHT Parkhead players included in Craig Brown’s squad for the World Cup Finals in France in 1998 – amazingly the last time the Scots qualified for a major tournament.

Donnelly took his place alongside team-mates Jonathan Gould, Jackie McNamara, Tom Boyd, Tosh McKinlay, Craig Burley, Paul Lambert and Darren Jackson as they prepared to play Brazil, Norway and Morocco.

And the ex-international hitman was impressed by the positive impact of Celtic midfielders Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor had on Friday night’s game when they came on against Costa Rica, despite the 1-0 loss.

The champions’ double-act started against Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday alongside club colleagues Jack Hendry and James Forrest and the nation enjoyed a 1-0 success in McLeish’s second comeback game.

Donnelly said: “Speaking from experience, it’s always good to have guys you’re working with day-in, day-out alongside you to give you that understanding.

“It has really benefited Scotland and although we unfortunately just didn’t get over the finishing line in the last qualifying campaign, I think it is the way ahead for the future.

“Thinking back to when we won the league in 1998, there were eight of us that then went to the World Cup, and it just relaxes you. It certainly helps.

“We started really poorly in the last campaign, and bringing these players in who were used to winning at Celtic brought that to the Scotland side.

“They have played in the big games and Scotland will reap the rewards for it.

“I know Alex McLeish was experimenting on Friday, but I think we build the team around the likes of McGregor, Armstrong and Hibs’ John McGinn.

“I think that’s a really exciting and creative midfield going forward for Scotland.”

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About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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