I REALLY felt for Steve Clarke and his players on Monday afternoon after the defeat to the Czech Republic.

I have been there with Scotland. I know how it feels to lose a big game when the nation is behind you and it is not easy, believe me.

The manner of the defeat will hurt them. The second goal from Patrik Schick was a sucker punch, although you have to look at the decision making, and the first was a disappointing one to lose as he gets the header in the area.

I remember Jock Stein telling us way back that he didn’t care how many balls we won on the halfway line, we had to win every one in the box. That was as pertinent then as it was on Monday.

The aftermath of a result like that is very difficult and I can take you back to the Costa Rica game and the opening match of the World Cup in 1990.

We were so expected to win that one. Whether it was the same fever pitch as the Czech Republic, I don’t know. I think it was, though, and there was so much hype around that one.

I felt we went into the game with a bit of apprehension because we had been told by everyone, including the Press, that it was a walkover. Somehow that impacts on you and you get a bit wary and you think it is a foregone conclusion.

I remember when we lost the game that it was bedlam. We got savaged in the Press afterwards but we had to use that for the next game against Sweden.

For me, it was a case of ‘I will show them’. I saw my name amongst a few others saying that we should get dropped and people wanted a brand new team played in that second game.

You don’t always read the papers in times like that but, personally speaking, I was just so determined to prove everyone wrong. I know a few of the boys had that feeling.

For us Scots, that is a trait that we have. We are resilient. We get back up off the floor.

We are not always consistent, we don’t always win continuously. But we have that fight about us and that gave us the inspiration to go and take the game to Sweden.

It was a really good performance in that game and we were deserved winners. We were a very dominant force that day and we showed what we were all about.

I know this situation is different because Steve’s side are now preparing to face the Auld Enemy and they are a top class team with world class players.

We are definitely the underdogs but anything can happen in a Scotland v England game. I remember going to Wembley in 1981 when Trevor Francis and Peter Withe were allegedly going to destroy Willie Miller and I.

We won that game 1-0 and this week Scotland have to take inspiration from results such as that and not be too disheartened despite the real blow of losing the first fixture in Group D.

I know that they will be hurting because of the expectations from outside and the demands that they will put on themselves. This is a squad that believed they could qualify before a ball was kicked and we have to remember that it can still happen for us.

Scotland went into the Czechs game riding on a wave of national optimism and the expectations were really, really high. So I get why there is a bit of deflation around now.

The result obviously wasn’t what we wanted but the performance certainly wasn’t terrible. It could have been better but it wasn’t a complete no-show from Scotland.

I remember Gordon Strachan and I having a conversation after we played France many years ago. Eric Cantona was up against us and he was at his imperious best in a game we lost comfortably in Paris.

Gordon said to me ‘big man, you didn’t put a foot wrong tonight, but we still lost three goals. In the press tomorrow, we will all get hammered because we lost the game’.

That is the nature of the national team. When Scotland don’t win, you take a bit of a bruising and you have to bounce back.

After the game on Monday, the reaction was that we played not too badly, we had some chances. There were questions about the team selection and people saying ‘if Stevie had done that or that’.

But we are all masters in hindsight, we have all got university degrees in hindsight, and we have got to back Stevie in the matches with England and Croatia.

He did a great job to get us through to these finals and we are still a team in a building phase. This squad and this team – we have got a lot of guys playing at a high level - will get better and sometimes you suffer setbacks along the way.

You can always look at goals and say ‘could we have prevented them?’. The answer to that is always yes. You can look at the finishing and say ‘should we have scored?’. And that answer to that is yes.

It was undoubtedly a blow to lose the goals and lose the game. In the end, it all comes down to the result and the manager and the players just need to keep their sanity and not get too carried away in the aftermath here.

Scotland have that resilience about them but we are now playing one of the favourites for the tournament in England. I would expect Stevie to shuffle the pack at Wembley.

It wasn’t the start that we wanted at Hampden, of course it wasn’t. The challenge now is to respond in the right manner and there would be no better way of doing that than by beating the Auld Enemy on their own turf.