Former national boss Craig Brown hopes his unwanted record of being the last manager to lead Scotland to a major tournament ends tonight.
The hopes of a nation rest on Scotland as they face Serbia in the Euro 2020 play-off final in Belgrade.
Victory for Steve Clarke’s side would end more than two decades in the international wilderness for Scotland dating back to 1998, when Brown led the Scots to the World Cup finals in France.
That was the last time Scotland graced a major tournament.
Brown, 80, believes Clarke’s squad can end that brutal cycle of tournament failure to secure qualification for the Euro finals.
He insists the key to success tonight will be foregoing the hackneyed “Braveheart” spirit in favour of calmness and composure in what will be the biggest game in many of the players’ careers.
Brown said: “I genuinely believe we have a good one-off chance against Serbia. Scotland have an excellent manager, are eight games unbeaten and the players have all bought into what Steve Clarke wants them to do.
“For a game like this you want the players to be calm, controlled and to fully concentrate.
“I was the assistant manager when Kenny Dalglish was playing and he would sit in the dressing room and be completely focused, as would experienced players like Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan.
“They weren’t hyper and shouting – none of this Braveheart stuff. They all had a calm assurance.
“What you try to get into your team is a calmness and assurance that they have to concentrate from the word go.
“You cannot go into a game like this – hyper, up-tight and all charged up.
“You go out calm, but ready to do battle in terms of covering the ground and doing the hard work required throughout the team.
“I genuinely believe Scotland are doing that under Clarke as they look assured as a unit and know what they are doing.”
Brown was at the heart of the national team in the halcyon days when qualifying for a major tournament was a regular occurrence. He was involved in three World Cup finals and two Euros, managing the Scots at Euro ‘96 as well as the ‘98 World Cup.
Scotland face a team packed with players performing in Europe’s top leagues – but Brown reckons Clarke’s side will also give Serbia cause for concern.
He said: “Serbia are a strong side and have a very shrewd manager in Ljubisa Tumbakovic, who won the league championship six times with Red Star Belgrade.
“Serbia’s back three that played against Norway in the semi-final of Aleksandar Kolarov, Nikola Milenkovic and Stefan Mitrovic are very experienced and have 136 caps between them, but let’s hope they have their work cut out.
“They also have Ajax captain Dusan Tadic, who is a player who can control a game of football.
“However, we have players like Callum McGregor and John McGinn who are outstanding and can get in about them in midfield.
“I have a pal who is Serbian and runs a cafe in Ayr. He played in the Red Star youths and he said Serbia will beat Scotland ‘no problem’.
“He said they would even beat us at caber tossing.
“However, if you are Serbia looking at Scotland you will be saying we have a real job on here as the Scots have not lost in eight games and are on a roll.
“Scotland have also not conceded in their last three games.
“If you don’t lose goals you don’t lose games.
“Serbia will see players performing with English teams like Liverpool’s Andy Robertson and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney.
“I genuinely believe we have a good chance of beating Serbia.”