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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Chick Young's view
Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

Scottish football is purring like a contented cat. Is there no end to this?

Hopefully not, but the history of the game dictates that seldom, if ever, do club and international football go hand in hand toward glory in the highest.

You might argue that in 1967 - when Celtic were winning the European Cup, Rangers were in the Cup-Winners' Cup final, Kilmarnock were having a right good tilt at the Fairs Cup and Scotland were ripping the knitting out of World Champions England - that here was a case in point.

But the truth is that the Wembley wizardry was a flash in the toilet pan of a time for our international team, which would take a further seven years to qualify for the finals of a major competition.

Now, though, is the time to rewrite history. Clubs and country - we are all in this march to glory together.

Celtic show off the European Cup in 1967
Scotland and Celtic were on a high back in 1967

Scotland cannot fail now. They just can't do this to us.

Once we were hopeless and hapless; now we are hopeful and happy. Delirious with joy actually.

Our team cannot fail us now. They cannot take us to the brink, teasing us with the prospect of our first finals in a decade and then disappear into the night like some flirt who raised then dashed your fantasies.

A nation, ladies and gentlemen, is holding its collective breath as our destiny is sealed at Hampden and in Tbilisi.

The beating pulse of our game is thundering with power at the moment because we gave ourselves our game back.

A decade or so ago, Scottish talent was being strangled. We will always embrace in this country a glorious talent like Henrik Larsson or Brian Laudrup, but exotic foreign names don't necessarily bring big ability.

Dick Advocaat's Rangers' team - with the notable exception of Barry Ferguson - did little about nursing Scottish youth. Our leagues were peppered with workmanlike foreigners who were no better - and in many cases much worse - than Scottish kids desperate for a chance.

That's not racism, it's a fact. And if the international game is to continue at all then we must protect, encourage and sharpen our own young blood.

Chairmen of the day went for instant solutions with a damn-the-future attitude that was always going to demand its payday. The game in this country has been forced to learn a painful lesson.

Kenny Miller during Scotland's 2-0 defeat in Ukraine
Scotland must hope to beat Ukraine to maintain the momentum

Of course there was much more that was wrong and continues to be so. There is still, for example, the continuing pillaging of public parks for supermarket and building use. The kids cannot play if they have nowhere to play.

But some of the dues have been paid. Throughout the land - at least in the SPL - there are glorious shoots of recovery, players who are blossoming by the day.

Down the divisions, there is work to be done. I suspect the gap between the top 12 and the rest is worse than we think. There is an outbreak of hope, but it is not yet an epidemic.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

For all that, we stand on the threshold of stirring times.

If Scotland complete this business of qualification for Euro 2008 over the next month - and I can yet see us agonisingly awaiting news from Kiev the Wednesday after our final fixture when Ukraine play France - then it will have been a football miracle.

I will have it called nothing less than the greatest achievement in a century and more of the international game in this country. Nothing comes close.

My heart is thumping, my stomach in knots at what we will have to endure in Mount Florida this weekend and in Georgia four days later.

I trust that the purring will metamorphose into a roar.



SEE ALSO
Scots hope for Caldwell recovery
09 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Smith praises successor McLeish
09 Oct 07 |  Internationals
McLeish sounds Shevchenko warning
09 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Chick Young's view
04 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Dailly makes return for Scotland
03 Oct 07 |  Internationals


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