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Stuart McCall: The Scottish Workhorse

Date: 19th April 2020

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When thinking of Scotland heroes of my generation numerous names spring to mind; Ally McCoist, Gary McAllister, Colin Hendry, John Collins, James McFadden, Scott Brown and Andy Robertson to name but a few.

Yet I was always impressed with the contributions that Stuart McCall would make whenever he wore a Scotland jersey.   

Maybe part of it was his ginger mane which would make him easily identifiable on the pitch. 

It nearly didn’t happen at all for McCall and Scotland.

Back in 1984, the midfielder was selected to represent England’s under-21 side. In the closing moments he was called over to the bench and ready himself to come on. At that stage, McCall states he was regretting his decision to play for England and deliberately took his time getting ready and by the time he was the full-time whistle had been blown. Thus he didn’t get on the pitch and that made him still eligible to play for Scotland.

Four years later, Stuart would eventually play for Scotland’s under-21s (ironically against England). He would go on and win his first senior cap in March 1990 in a friendly against Argentina. The midfielder would last the full ninety minutes as the Scots beat the then world champions in a 1-0 victory.   

Stuart McCall must have made an impression as he was then selected by Andy Roxburgh to go to the World Cup in Italy that summer. McCall would play in all three of Scotland’s games in that tournament, 

In our win over Sweden in Italia 90, Stuart McCall would score his one and only goal for us. The central midfielder forced home an effort at the back post after a well taken corner. 

McCall would then play in play in Scotland’s three ties at Euro 92. He would again play in all of Scotland’s three encounters at Euro 96. 

The hardworking star wouldn’t go to France 98. I think Craig Brown’s men missed McCall at that particular World Cup. We could have done with his experience and with his endeavour. 

Stuart McCall would make his last appearance in front of the Tartan Army in March 98 against Denmark. In total he would end up with 40 caps. 

Now for me, McCall really stood out because he would give his all during every appearance for Scotland. He was extremely consistent and would cover every blade of grass. I would call him a holding midfielder but a reliable one. He would do the basics fantastically well and that often goes unnoticed in football. He would win the ball and give it to a teammate that would build an attack. Other midfielders like a Gary McAllister or a John Collins would shine ever brighter because they had McCall in there in the engine room alongside them. 

Stuart was our water carrier of the 90s. He never shirked a challenge. People might think 40 international games isn’t a lot but look at who he came up against; Argentina, Brazil, England, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Germany and Colombia. Then remember he was selected and played in three major finals in the 90s too. He was a player that clearly won the appreciation of his managers and his peers.

His work-ethic and his passion really stood out to me. Yet even as a ball winning, tenacious midfielder McCall would rarely get into trouble with referees. 

I am not sure Stuart McCall every got the recognition he deserved to get as a player. His endless running, harrying and tackling seems to get lost when we discuss our national heroes. 

So here’s to the reliable Scottish workhorse that gave so much during such a strong era for our country! 

 

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