'There was a chance to go to a World Cup with Scotland or on holiday to Ayia Napa......I phoned up and cancelled the holiday'

Scotland will put 23 years of hurt behind them on Monday afternoon when they finally return to the major stage against the Czech Republic.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 1:09 pm

It's been a sad and frustrating existence being both a Scotland fan, and a player, down the past two decades as the wait to play at a finals seemed never ending.

The taste of making it to a Euro or world finals evaded some of our biggest names from across the past 20 odd years.

But for East Fife manager Darren Young watching on as the Scots take to the park to compete on a global stage at the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship will bring back memories of his time amongst the last national squad to appear at a major tournament.

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East Fife manager Darren Young was part of the Scotland set-up the last time the country reached a major finals

Young was a hamper boy for Craig Brown's France 1998 side.

His role was mainly to assist the squad who would be competing, but the experience went far beyond simply placing cones and collecting bibs.

Along with fellow young players Paul Gallacher, Mark Burchill and Kieran McAnespie, the East Fife manager was made to feel part of the side, and even got to rub shoulders with some footballing legends as the Scots opened the tournament against Brazil.

"I was actually booked up for Ayia Napa and I got a phone call about it," said the Fife boss.

"It was probably more through Alex Miller, who had been my manager at Aberdeen, and was assistant manager of the Scotland team at the time who I think had put a word in about me.

"I was told there was the chance to go to the World Cup or I could go to Ayia Napa.

"Straight away I cancelled the holiday.

"Within a couple of weeks I had been suited up and was away to Hampden and got a huge kit bag.

"It was as if I was one of the players and part of the squad, the only difference was that we had to help out if they needed anything and we did that wee bit extra.

"It was unbelievable.

"I remember the first game and we were on the bus to the Parc des Princes and the streets were lined with loads of Scotland fans and fans from every country.

"We got to the stadium and then we went out to check the pitch.

"The Brazil team was there, guys like Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Cafu and you're thinking 'wow, these are guys I only watch on TV or play as on the Playstation' and now they're walking past me and giving me a wee nod."

That Scotland team was one full of household names, John Collins, Colin Hendry, Paul Lambert and Gordon Durie just a few of those amongst it.

But there were no airs or graces towards the four youngsters.

"Everyone was brilliant," added Young who was 19-years-old at the time of the last World Cup.

"It was just like we were one of the players and we were out there working on passing, shooting or whatever it was with them.

"We were all thankful to be there and it ended up being as close as I got to a full international squad!"