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FERGIE’S TEARS AND CHEERS FOR SCOTLAND

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SIR ALEX FERGUSON admits he cried tears of joy along with Ryan Christie during the Celtic midfielder’s emotional TV interview only minutes after Scotland qualified for this summer’s Euro Finals.

Christie scored the goal that gave Steve Clarke’s side a 1-1 draw in Serbia in November before keeper David Marshall took the spotlight with a crucial stop during the penalty-kick shoot-out after extra-time.

Manchester United’s legendary gaffer, now 79, watched the action from his living room in Cheshire and was overcome as his nation won through to the finals of a major tournament for the first time since Craig Brown led the Scots to France in the World Cup extravaganza in 1988.

Ferguson is looking forward immensely to watching the country in the competition where they face the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden on June 14 and 22 respectively with a trip to Wembley to lock horns with England sandwiched in between on the 18th.

The former Scotland and Aberdeen chief said: “The tragedy of it all was that the Tartan Army wasn’t there. I always remember the World Cup in Italy – the fans there were unbelievable – so we’re missing that and they’re missing that.

FAN-TASTIC…Sir Alex Ferguson is backing Scotland – and the Tartan Army.

“But on that penalty-kick shoot-out, when Serbia scored in the last minute, I said: ‘Christ Almighty…extra-time. No chance’.

“But they saw it through, really dug their heels in and David Marshall’s save – we didn’t even know if we’d qualified or not and then everybody’s jumping on top of him. We’ll always remember David Marshall’s reaction.

“Then the Ryan Christie interview – Christ, I was crying when I saw him crying. These are special moments that encapsulated exactly what it meant to everyone. Ryan was crying for Scotland. For every Scottish fan. David made a save every Scot wishes he would have made.

“It resonates because of the love Scotland has for football. It was amazing. You talk about a boost to the country? It was fantastic. I remember the ’98 World Cup, scoring against Brazil in Paris in the first game.

TEARS FOR SOUVENIRS…an emotional Ryan Christie after the Serbia encounter.

“It was phenomenal and although it didn’t materialise, the excitement the Scottish fans felt and it was the same back in ’82 when we scored first against Brazil. We’ve had our moments and that was another great moment, against Serbia.”

Ferguson believes Clarke’s team possesses the potential to provide more memories and welcomes the news fans will be allowed through the turnstiles for the group matches.

The multi award-winning manager, speaking in a report in the Daily Record, added: “The important thing about the home games is we’ve got fans back in. I know it’s only 12,000 people, but 12,000 at Hampden when they get going is like 50,000 at Wembley. We can create the atmosphere alright. There’s no doubt about that.

EUROS HERE WE COME…keeper David Marshall yells with delight.

“One thing I would warn against is paying too much attention to the England match. That looks after itself. Getting a result against the Czech Republic is imperative. Get a win there and win against Croatia – and don’t forget they were in the World Cup Final – but if we look after those two games, the England game will look after itself. I’m hopeful we can do well.

“The thing that has impressed me with Steve Clarke is he is unflappable. It doesn’t matter if the team is doing well or badly, his demeanour does not change. He is calm and I think that transmits itself to the team, so there’s no panic.

“Having been watching them, it’s been the old story we’ve had for a long time..the scoring of goals. But the performance levels have been very good and Steve has done a really good job. With every game you manage Scotland, there’s something added to the experience of it.

“The end thing is to experience the joy of the Serbia game. Get that moment again and again and again.”

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Editor

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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