June 10, 2017, the final minute of a historic Auld Enemy clash – a moment etched in the memories of Scotland fans for all the wrong reasons.
With time ticking away, the Scots were 2-1 up and seeking their first win against England in 18 years, Stuart Armstrong carried the ball out of the defensive third.
With the benefit of hindsight, fans have long-since lamented Armstrong’s decision to not simply blast the ball anywhere with Gordon Strachan’s team within touching distance of three World Cup qualifying points and a landmark victory.
Instead he elected to try to pick out two-goal hero Leigh Griffiths, breaking down the right flank of the Hampden turf.
Kyle Walker stole in, Raheem Sterling fired a delivery into the box and Harry Kane met it at the back post under little pressure to break Scottish hearts by levelling the tie up.
Four years on, Southampton midfielder Armstrong is ready to put that all behind him as Scotland head to Wembley for a crucial Euro 2020 Group D clash.
That’s the belief of his former Dundee United mentor Stevie Campbell.
Campbell was the youth academy director at United when the now-29-year-old burst on to the scene at Tannadice.
He also worked with fellow-Scotland stars Jack Hendry and skipper Andy Robertson in his time with the Terrors.
It was Armstrong who he knew best, though, with the midfield man leaving a lasting impression on Campbell.
Hope Armstrong gets start against England
The 53-year-old former Dundee defender hopes his protegee is given the nod by Steve Clarke against England on Friday night as Scotland look to recover from Monday’s 2-0 opening game defeat to the Czech Republic.
“I hope he’s going to play at Wembley – I’m really looking forward to that,” Campbell said.
“Whether he plays or not, I’m just so proud of him.
“It’s probably the best midfield we’ve seen in terms of quality and competition.
“I’m biased, of course, but I’d have Stuart in the team.
“With our midfield, (John) McGinn, (Scott) McTominay, (Billy) Gilmour and (Callum) McGregor, there’s real quality, but Stuart is a man that does different things, for me.
“With and without the ball, the runs he makes and, what he creates, I don’t think we’ve got another midfielder that can do that.”
‘Stu nearly never made it’
Looking back on the 2017 clash, Campbell reveals how Armstrong, who played for the Tangerines from 2010-15, almost never made it.
The former Celtic man was studying for a law degree at the time and had an exam on the day of the game.
Thankfully, after a phone call to Campbell, Armstrong elected to resit the test and make himself available for Scotland.
The irony of the decision is not lost on his mentor, however.
Campbell continued: “The last time I watched him was Scotland-England at Hampden, the famous 2-2 game with Griffiths’ free-kicks.
“Stu nearly never made it – I bet some Scotland fans wish he didn’t with that pass at the end!
“It’s something I would never slag him for too much because he tries to play football. but he has forgotten that. He played a big part that day and shouldn’t dwell on it.
“He was meant to do his law exam that day and had to actually get a resit because of the game.
“I think he made the right choice and I thought Stu did great that game, but he’s by far a more advanced player than what he was at that time.
“I think he’s ready to make a real impression in this tournament.”
United kids ‘were slow burners’
He doesn’t go as far as to say he foreseen their meteoric rise, but Campbell always believed in the quality of his tangerine kids.
Armstrong and Liverpool left-back Robertson, in particular, have impressed the former United academy supremo with the way they’ve dealt with setbacks throughout their careers.
“Stuart and Andy were slow burners,” he added.
“I can even remember a lot of people not rating Stuart coming through the youth teams.
“He didn’t burst onto the first-team scene, he was integrated slowly, but quite rightly so because he wasn’t ready for it.
“That was in part due to the fact he wasn’t a bam, he was just somebody who was quietly confident.
“It took him a while to get adapted to the surroundings and the big characters within that dressing-room at the time.
“Stu was never one to go and shout his mouth off. Stu and Andy were more about inner determination and a confidence that doesn’t always show.
“They just needed someone to give them that wee kick start and show faith in them. The rest is history.
“Any time you hear Andy and Stu talk, there’s real intellect and they always say and do the right things.
“They’re feet on the ground type guys. They’re great ambassadors for the country and their families.”
Hendry ‘always very confident’ in ability
As for Celtic centre-back Hendry, despite only working with him for one season in the United youth ranks, Campbell could sense his self-belief.
The 26-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Belgian club Oostende and made his name at city rivals Dundee, has come on leaps and bounds since failing to make the grade at Tannadice.
Campbell commented: “Jack had a slightly different route. It’s amazing he didn’t take the jump from my team into the United first team and beyond.
“There’s always this balance needed with young players.
“Without being big-headed, Jack was always very confident in his own ability and it probably made him not that well-liked among the youth team.
“To have that confidence when he was that young, it put him on the radar of a lot of clubs.
“It was Gavin Strachan, who I did my A licence with, he phoned me when Jack was leaving Peterborough and said: “You’re the man to take him in and take him under your wing’.
“I’d like to think I’ve played a wee bit of a part, but not a major part. A lot of it was down to Jack because it didn’t happen for him at United.
“He went to Partick, down south and then Dens and made Dundee some money.
“He’s taken that route, but there’s a real inner belief with him and confidence.
“Of course, he can play. He’s definitely a modern centre-back, that’s for sure, brought up in the mould of playing out from the back and doing it very well.”
Campbell’s pride at his boys’ progress
Despite a false start against the Czechs at Hampden and history counting against Scotland, Campbell remains positive about our chances.
Whatever happens, there is a real sense of pride in him when he talks about three of his own – Andy, Stuart and Jack.
“It’s great to see guys like Andy, Stuart and Jack, who were pulled from pillar to post as young lads, making it,” he asserted.
“I’ve worked with kids like that all my life, I think I’ve become a psychologist more than a coach!
“How you deal with people is a massive part of the game and when I think back to those boys at United, they’ve had to do it the hard way with some rejection along the way.
“You keep working hard, believing in yourself and there’s no ceiling or level you can’t break through.
“They’re now representing us at a tournament for the first time in a generation and it’s brilliant to see.
“I’m a positive person, and I’ve had a few sleepless nights about England, but you never know!
“I can’t wait to see them in the dark blue of Scotland, the hairs will be standing up on the back of my neck when we’re singing Flower of Scotland, that’s for sure!”