Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish enjoyed watching a “brilliant” Scotland performance against Spain and took particular delight in seeing Scott McTominay score twice in a famous Hampden victory.
Scotland’s surprise win on Tuesday night was their first against Spain in 39 years and a major upset against a European powerhouse that regularly cruises through qualifying games.
McLeish said that the game instantly transported him back to memorable games from his international playing career, including that last win against the same opposition, and to the high point of his time managing Scotland, when the team beat France in Paris thanks to a James McFadden goal.
“It’s just one of these brilliant, historic games,” he told STV. “It takes me back a long way to the Spain victory in 1984, and the Paris game.
“Great memories and that triggered many of them. That performance last night was exceptional.
“The resilience of the guys impressed me. The Spaniards passed the ball about and are really brilliant architects of the ball. That’s a huge part of their game.
“Scotland did the basics very well. They were organised well, defended well and of course getting two goals from big Scott McTominay coming on like a number ten with the runs he was making and phenomenal goalscoring.
“It’s a real boost for the nation.”
McTominay was born in England and qualifies for Scotland through his father. During his second spell as manager, McLeish persuaded the Manchester United midfielder to pledge his allegiance to the team in dark blue and revealed that he had travelled through a notorious snow storm in 2018 to see the player before calling him up for the first time.
He said “Jose Mourinho was quite vociferous at the time, saying ‘Alex, you need to come down here and watch big Scott and get him into that Scotland team’.
“I went through the elements that night, if you remember the ‘Beast from the East’ and I ended up getting to Manchester at about four in the morning.
“It was worth it all the way when you see the progress the big man has made, not just with Scotland but with Manchester United.”
The former international boss said he thought before the game that Spain might be a little bit vulnerable and that the Scotland squad was looking strong.
“I felt we did have a good chance last night because the levels our boys are playing at just now, the Premier League is the top in the world,” he said.
“The boys from our league are good as well and we’ve got Lyndon Dykes pitching in with a few goals over the last couple of years.
“It’s absolutely tremendous. They’ve created a great atmosphere in that group.
“We’ve got difficult away games to come but it’s got to give us a shot in the arm in terms of confidence and mentality. These things are absolutely vital in a top footballer.”