“I was in the bowels of the stadium. I was needing attention on my knee.
“Because I couldn’t walk there was no way I could go back out.
“It was a contrast. I enjoyed the country qualifying, but at the same time it was a hard blow to take, knowing I wouldn’t be part of it going forward.
The memory of his career-ending knee injury – which came 30 years yesterday – is crystallised in the mind of Aberdeen legend Willie Miller.
It came in the dark blue of Scotland, when he was tackled late, after the whistle had gone.
The game against Norway at Hampden ended 1-1, Ally McCoist’s goal cancelled out late on, but Andy Roxburgh’s Scots still qualified for Italia ’90 as a result.
However, the match will always be remembered in the north-east for the misfortune suffered by the Dons’ defensive general on what was his 65th cap – just his second of 1989.
Miller, who was by then 34, said: “The injury was silly from the opposition.
“I was invited back (to play for Scotland), because I was a bit-part player at that time in the international set-up. It was a changing of the guard, really.
“Andy Roxburgh asked me to come back for that game, because it was a vital one we had to not lose to qualify.
“It took me a while to agree, but I suppose when your country calls you, you take the call and get on with it.
“The injury was caused after the referee blew the whistle and I had just simply stopped.
“I don’t even know who the guy was who came clattering into me after the whistle was blown. It was a nonsense tackle from him.
“I don’t know what happened afterwards, whether he was booked or not.
“I knew at that time it was something bad. It was really painful – I’d had the injury before and this was going to aggravate it no end.
“It was going to be really difficult to recover from it and, as it was, I didn’t recover from it.”
Able to laugh about it now, Miller added: “All I can say is when I went off we were leading 1-0 and it finished 1-1.”
The challenge had left Miller with permanent bone damage, something he was told there was no fix for.
After a period of rest and pre-season, he tried to return to club football – again at the national stadium – as the Reds took on Queens Park in the second round of the League Cup.
He says he knew after this outing his “number was up”.
Flash forward to today, and it is likely a modern Aberdeen centre-back partnership could start together for the national team, which Miller and Alex McLeish did more than 50 times.
Against Norway, Miller was actually in the sweeper role behind McLeish and Hearts’ Dave McPherson, and fellow Don Brian Irvine also went on to partner McLeish for Scotland once – against Romania in 1990.
However, the partnership of Miller and McLeish is iconic, and Miller admits 30 years has been a “long time” to wait for an Aberdeen pairing to try to take up the mantle, as Scott McKenna and Mikey Devlin could do against Cyprus today and Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Miller said: “I think Russell (Anderson) on his own was the one I thought might (become a Scotland regular), while (Zander) Diamond flirted with it very early. Mark Reynolds as well.
“There have been centre-backs who’ve looked like doing it, but there’s never been a pairing who’ve looked like rekindling the beginnings of me and Alex.
“It has been a long time and they need to make the most of it.
“You’re looking for the momentum going forward and it’s what the manager has stated on a number of occasions.
“The most important games come in March, but these two games against reasonable opposition – not San Marino – are the ones where you need to put on a performance.”
Steve Clarke’s Scots are looking to use their final two dead-rubber Group I matches to build a head of steam going into March’s Euro play-offs.
The mission has been hampered by call-offs and injuries. Among those to pull out have been Leeds captain, and centre-back, Liam Cooper.
If flatmates McKenna and Devlin can take their chance and command the centre of defence, Miller knows both Aberdeen and Scotland will feel the benefit.
He said: “They’re still a decent age in terms of central defenders. McKenna’s probably got another 10 years in him. It’s good to see it and you can only hope they take the opportunity, gel and bring their top club form to international level.
“It certainly does (help Aberdeen and Scotland), there’s no doubt about that.
“It gives you the belief and confidence, you can both compete at the highest level – which is the international level.
“When you take that back to your club game, like me and Alex did, there’s no doubt it was of huge benefit to Aberdeen Football Club.
“If these two can do it, they will get the same confidence.”