The Scotland Men’s Football Team
In the end, it wasn’t meant to be.
But as the final whistle blew at Hampden Park, and Scotland bowed out of the delayed Euro 2020 finals, it was with heads held high, pride in the national team restored, and a brighter future on the horizon.
It was Scotland’s men’s first tournament appearance since 1998, and those intervening 23 years had seen plenty of low points and heroic failure.
But since taking over two years ago, Steve Clark has built a team brimming with energy, fearlessness and belief, making the most of generational talents such as Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney.
Even so, when Luka Jovic equalised in injury time for Serbia in Belgrade last November, with Scotland moments from qualifying, it was hard not to fear the worst, and that our exile from the game’s biggest stages would go on.
But this Scotland team is simply too strong, too brave, too good to crumble under that sort of pressure.
The sight of David Marshall flinging himself to his left, clawing away Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty, is imprinted in the mind of every Scotland fan, along with the agonising pause for a VAR check, before an explosion of joy 22 years in the making.
Scotland were back, and despite the disappointment of defeats against the Czech Republic and Croatia, outplaying England at Wembley means the Tartan Army will have fond memories of this footballing summer.
And with nine of the Euros squad aged under 25, including the mercurial Billy Gilmour, we can be confident we won’t have to wait another two decades for our next shot at glory.