THIS may not be the most popular opinion, but I am glad that the Scottish Football Association have decided to retain Hampden as the national stadium. The governing body may not be getting a lot right at the minute in my book, but for once, I agree with them. To be fair, they were due one.

For me, it would have been a tragedy to have lost the spiritual home of our game and all of the history that comes with it.

I absolutely loved playing there. I get the fact that when it is half-empty, as it was for the games against Belgium and Albania, then it is not the greatest venue for atmosphere in the world. That problem can be solved by taking these games around the country, but I have to say that for me, the Hampden experience was brilliant as a player.

I played in two or three friendlies there under Berti Vogts in front of 13,000 or 14,000, but as much as that wasn’t ideal, you were still playing for Scotland at Hampden. I have heard players like Scott Brown slating the place because of matches like that, but I just can’t get my head around that attitude.

Playing at Hampden is surely like a dream come true for anyone who grew up as a fan of Scottish football, is it not? It certainly was for me. It is an unbelievable feeling to walk out on that pitch representing your country. Tell me what tops that? What more are people expecting?

I realise there may be a danger that the younger generation perhaps don’t think about Hampden the way that my generation do, and because of that, the future of the stadium depends as much on the fortunes of the national team going forward as it does on anything else.

If we can get a successful team on the park, then more people will come to games, and the experience will be better for everyone, so that is a huge factor in bringing back the Hampden roar. If we end up with a newly refurbished stadium and have a poor team on the park, then the ground will still be half-empty no matter what the sight-lines are like. There’s no point in having a better view of the same old failures being repeated time and time again.

I’ll put my cards on the table and admit that I’ve only been at Hampden once as a spectator, and that was standing at the Scottish Cup final in 1987, so I am not disregarding the opinions of those who attend matches as fans there on a regular basis. I recognise the fact that there has to be change.

There is nothing wrong with the Main Stand, but the rest of the ground has to be brought up to the standard you would expect these days from a top-class stadium. I played at Wembley and the difference was astounding in terms of the ‘wow’ factor. Hampden is on a different scale, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aim high with where we want the focal point of our game to be.

The question now is where the finance comes from to make the necessary changes. Seeing what the refurbishment at Stuttgart cost - around 80 million Euros - I think we can safely say the SFA wouldn’t be able to pony up the dough to replicate that.

The bare minimum this is going to cost the SFA to do correctly would be around the £50million mark, so they will be relying on funds from elsewhere to get it over the line. Will that come from government in a time of austerity, or from the further generosity of wealthy benefactors like Baron Willie Haughey or Sir Tom Hunter?

That’s a question that SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell has to be asking and quickly. I am not surprised that he didn’t want his legacy to be that he had killed off Hampden, but if he wants to be remembered as the man who saved it then he has to be extremely pro-active in getting the ball rolling.

Striking while the iron is hot and the public mood for change is there is the only chance he has to take everyone with him and get them on side, because the governing body aren’t exactly flavour of the month right now, so any hesitancy will rightly be held up as a further show of incompetence.

The project at Stuttgart took a couple of years planning and then a couple of years to build, so if we want to be bringing in the wrecking ball after Euro 2020 then we have to get cracking now.

So, while I feel that the call was a good one to keep Hampden and the admission that they want to renovate the ground was a good initial step from the SFA, I just hope beyond hope that they grasp the opportunity to deliver something substantial that the whole country can be proud of once again.

The real work starts now. I just hope the SFA are up to the challenge.