As Scotland debuts go, it’s not bad at all.

“The phone call came from Jock Stein asking if I’d like to go in the squad as an over-aged player in Iceland for the U21s during the week. I said ‘of course’,” Murdo MacLeod began, recalling the story from 1985.

“Then I got a phone call half an hour later saying ‘How would you like to be in the squad for the game against England on Saturday?’. I just said ‘Wonderful, fantastic’.”

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MacLeod is adamant this was not a test by his former manager, keen to suss out the commitment of a player eager to get his first cap. Regardless, the then Celtic midfielder did enough to seal his part in what was the last win for Scotland over England at Hampden.

“We met up at Gleneagles for a couple of days then down to Hampden. I was all excited on the bench. Next thing I’m out warming up every 15 to 20 minutes,” he said.

“Then 15 minutes into the second half Jock told me to go out and get warmed up. I’m watching the game, I’m watching the game then the next thing Goughy scores and I’m jumping about daft that we were 1-0 up. Then I thought ‘I might not get on now!’.

“Then two minutes later he called me in and said I was going on. It was fantastic, a really special moment for me. Jock took me over to the touchline, he had his hand round me and took me right to the line. He then said to me ‘Right, Gordon is coming off, push the midfield across and you go over the other side.’

“That was me getting my first cap. It was a fantastic feeling stepping over the line. You didn’t need much of a warm up.

“To play against that England team was a fantastic occasion for me.”

It is an opportunity that will present itself tomorrow afternoon. While Scotland go into this World Cup qualifier as underdogs, MacLeod insists it is a tag that does not handicap the hosts to the point where their task is impossible. Instead, it should motivate them.

“I was 28 when I made my Scotland debut and I wasn’t sure whether I would get an international cap.

“So to start off against England and to beat them was pretty nice. Hopefully the boys can do the same at the weekend. I still think we are a lot closer than most people think. I do believe we have a chance.

“We are not going to rely on world class footballers. We need to rely on team spirit and I think that will count for more than one top player who can change the game.

“They are all united behind the manager and that thing can work out for you.”

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