Scott Ramsay was one of us. Scotland-daft, adored by his girlfriend and his pals, the Dundee fan passed away after an aneurysm at just 24. Yet, after his death, he inspired his heroes to glory. This is his story.

As the camera drew tight to his face, the trademark twinkle in his eye was undimmed. Physically, he was unmistakenly diminished. His delivery was a little wavering in parts, but that suited the subject matter. Craig Brown, with gold-rimmed glasses pushed down to the end of his nose, read aloud from a letter he had received prior to leading his country to the European Championships in 1996.

It was from a young woman named Jane. Her boyfriend, Scott, was a huge Scotland fan. Flower of Scotland was the only song she had ever heard him sing. He was understated, didn’t like attention, but when he went to watch his country, he would don a flag and a bunnet. It was in those moments, she wrote, that he was truly happy.

He had another reason to be happy a few days before Jane had cause to write to the Scotland manager. He had awoken on a Friday morning to his tickets for the matches against The Netherlands and England at Euro ’96 through his letterbox.

Alas, on the Sunday he suffered an aneurysm, and Scott would never awaken again. By the Monday, he had died from a massive brain haemorrhage. He was 24.

Jane, in her grief and her bewilderment, reached out to a man who had given her boyfriend so many happy times. She asked for nothing in return, except to beseech the Scotland players to do their country, and Scott, proud.

There were many reasons why Brown was such a good Scotland manager. And the main one, is what also made him such a good man. For all his tactical acumen and his encyclopaedic football knowledge, it was his empathy that allowed him to push his players to heights they – and a great many among the Tartan Army - may not have previously thought them to be capable of.





He was moved by the letter, and knew his players would be too. And by the fact that Scott’s passion for his country, for his team, was one shared by tens of thousands of his compatriots. That his love for Scotland, and that of so many of his fellow supporters, had to be impressed upon the men who would represent them in England, of all places, behind auld enemy lines.

Brown stood up in the Villa Park dressing room and addressed his players as they prepared to face the might of The Netherlands in their opening fixture, and just as he would to Jonathan Sutherland some 27 years later, he read Jane’s letter. You could, he said, as 40,000-odd supporters were reaching fever pitch at the other end of the tunnel, have heard a pin drop.

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His players, of course, went on to battle and scrap their way to a hugely creditable (some would say, slightly fortunate) goalless draw to kick off their campaign.

Brown’s death shortly after he recorded this interview with the BBC, nudging the age of 83, could hardly be described as premature, but it still felt cruel that his passing had deprived us of his wit and charm all the same. In typical ‘Wee Broon’ style, though, he left us with that parting gift.

What Brown’s death had also robbed us of though was the chance to find out more about Scott. This young man who may have passed in the most tragic of circumstances, but whose love for his team had helped inspire them on one of the biggest stages of all. One of our own. And whose story, in Jane’s words, read out a little falteringly by Brown, had reduced me to tears so many years later. I’m certain I wasn’t alone in that.

Thankfully, Scott’s short life left a lasting impression on many of those who knew him, not only his beloved girlfriend, Jane. Gary Coyle met Scott Ramsay when they both wound up at Shawlands Academy in 1984, finding that they lived around the corner from one another. Football, though, was the bond that brought them together.

Despite being born in Glasgow, Scott followed in the footsteps of his Dundonian father and was a Dens Park devotee. Gary supported Partick Thistle, so the pair had the shared experience of rooting for an underdog against the forces of the Old Firm.

“We palled about, went to football, played football constantly,” Gary said.

“He was a big football fanatic, and he loved Dundee as much as Scotland. That was his big thing. He was Glaswegian born and bred, but his dad was from Dundee, and that was where he went.

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“One of my first away grounds was actually Dens Park, so we were always up there, or just palling about playing football basically.

“We would all go to the Scotland games together. In those days, you would get your tickets from Royal Stores on Pollokshaws Road, so Scott would go in and pick up the tickets from there and we would all go to Hampden. There was a whole bunch of us used to go, it went on for years and years.

“He was actually a very intellectual guy. Very clever. At first, he was still a bit of a cheeky chappy, but not anything bad. Full of mischief, that’s all. As he got older, he was more studious, he was really, really clever. Maths in particular, he was very good at maths.

“He was the one who went to Glasgow Uni, I didn’t, I was a bit of a slacker and too busy drinking! But he was the one who went to uni and he had a promising career ahead of him.”

His early working life had shorter term prospects, but was transformational to his life all the same, as that is where he first met Jane.

Gary recalled: “I knew Jane from the early ’90s. We all worked together in Texas Homecare DIY store, which was Homebase before it was Homebase.

“While we were at school we worked there at nights during the week and at weekends or whatever, and that was how he met Jane, she worked there as well.

“We had a five-a-side team too that always played on a Sunday. We had Craig McEwan who played for Clyde and a lot of lower league teams as well as in the juniors, and Chris McKay, who is the finance director at Celtic now, too.

“We would all play Sunday nights, and when we were coming off you would get the next guys asking if anyone wanted to play again, and Scott would be the one who would put up his hand saying, ‘Aye I’ll play!’ We would all be knackered and he could have played another two games no bother.”

It would be his devotion to fitness that would make Scott’s death, and the manner of it, all the more shocking for Gary, and coming so suddenly as it did after his Sunday football ritual.

“We’d been playing five-a-sides down at Goals in Shawlands on the Sunday and there was no inkling, he was fit as a fiddle,” he said.

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“I think it happened that night, the 2nd of June. He went home to Jane’s place, and that is when he took ill, that night.

“I found out the next day that he was in a coma, so I went to see him. We didn’t find out that he had passed away until quite a bit after it though, I think it was from a bit in the Evening Times that I found out, which I still have some place. I cut it out.

“It was a massive shock. I don’t think he had an enemy. He was a good laugh, very likeable. His funeral at Linn Crematorium was packed out the door. We were all absolutely devastated.

“It was fitting that he was wearing his Scotland strip when he was buried, and a big part of the service was about Dundee and Scotland, two of the loves of his life.”

The other, Jane, poured her grief onto the page, and sent it to Craig Brown. Nobody really knew, Gary recalls, how to handle Scott’s sudden passing. And there was the question of what to do with his prized tickets for the Euros, with the championships just a few weeks away.

“I hadn’t originally planned on going down, I was probably short of cash, but I was a big Scotland fan and I was going to watch it on the telly,” he said.

“But Scott and another friend of ours, David, they had bought tickets.

“I think they were in the travel club at that time, and they were right up for it. It was the first competition they were going to see, and playing England, that was the big thing. They were really looking forward to that.

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“I ended up with his tickets. It was awful in so many respects, and a real dilemma, but I think he would have wanted someone to go down there. So, it was me that went down for The Netherlands and the England game. We missed the one that Scotland actually won [against Switzerland], typically.

“I felt like I was there for him. When Flower of Scotland started, it was very emotional. The song had taken on an added poignancy, and the both of us were pretty much overcome with emotion. Particularly at the England game, actually, because we knew he would really have enjoyed that.”

He would also have got a kick out of the fact that the Scotland manager even knew who he was, or that he would have helped spur on the Scotland players ahead of such a crucial match as The Netherlands fixture was. And, Gary is sure, from Brown reading out his letter to the nation so many years on.

“Jane took it very, very badly obviously when Scott died,” he said.

“She probably wrote the letter just to do something, but I don’t remember knowing about it then.

“It was surreal when I saw the interview on Twitter. I’m sure that Craig Brown mentioned it in another interview in ’96.

“Seeing Craig talking about it just made me think what a great man he was as well, and what a lovely man he was to actually do that. And to have kept the letter all those years later just shows what a man he was, and what a man Scott was too.

“He would have loved to have met Craig and the players. I would like to think he will be remembered for being a huge Scotland fan, a huge Dundee fan, and just a really nice guy who didn’t have an enemy in the world. He was that type of person.

“He would have been delighted to think that he had some part to play in getting a better performance out of the Scotland players.”