EVENTS in Nice this weekend will bring back memories for Gordon Durie.
He was present at the draw for the 1998 World Cup finals in France, and even played for a European select side against the Rest of the World as part of the occasion. That was the last time that Scotland featured in the finals of an international tournament and every passing year heightens the regret of the national team's marginalisation.
Gordon Strachan will hope that the draw for the Euro 2016 qualifying rounds in Nice on Sunday will be kind to Scotland, not least because the expanded tournament offers greater scope for qualification. Back in December 1995, Scotland were drawn with Austria, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus, and qualified for France 1998 as the best runners-up, having finished second behind the Austrians.
That was a qualifying group that saw Scotland register seven wins, two draws and only one defeat, under Craig Brown, but subsequent campaigns have been less assured. A generation of fans has not known what it is for the national team to compete on such a stage, and even Durie, who played in these tournaments, has grown wistful.
"I'm desperate myself to go to one [as a fan]," he said. "[As players], we miss out on the atmosphere - we get told about the atmosphere at World Cups and Euros and we never get to see that, fans going up to stadiums and all that. I'd love to go to one.
"The draw is the big thing. Scotland never get an easy draw, do we? It's important we get off to a good start and get back to these championships - instead of watching them.
"I didn't think it would be as long as an absence but we've never had any superstars. We've always just worked hard and the current squad is similar. They need to work hard and that's what we did years ago."
Durie, who is now a youth coach at Rangers, was a late replacement for Gary McAllister at the draw for the finals. He also made an appearance as a substitute as the Rest of the World defeated Europe 5-2, coming on for Spain's Fernando Hierro.
He has watched the development of the national team under Strachan and is confident that progress is being made. "[Strachan] is going in the right direction and everyone is buying into his mentality," Durie said. "More importantly, the players are as well, and if you've got the players on your side you've got a chance.
"They've got the right people in there. Everyone is optimistic with the backroom staff and the team that's coming through. So let's hope we can do it. I wouldn't say we took qualifying for granted. We were fortunate that through the 1990s we managed to get to two World Cups and two Euros."