Scotland and Israel have become familiar foes with tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier the sixth meeting of the sides in two-and-a-half years.
Aberdeen and Scotland legend Willie Miller played in the first meeting of the nations in February 1981 and says it had a major impact on his international career.
Prior to that 1-0 victory in Tel Aviv, Miller had won nine international caps and was still trying to establish himself in manager Jock Stein’s side.
He was on the bench for Scotland’s inaugural clash with Israel, but after the visitors had been outplayed in the first period, was sent on at half-time.
The Scots went on to win 1-0 courtesy of Kenny Dalglish’s goal, with Miller’s part in turning the tide not going unnoticed.
He remained in Stein’s side for the Home Internationals at the end of the 1980-81 season and became a Scotland mainstay.
Looking back, the Evening Express columnist, who won 65 international caps, said: “I was still trying to convince Jock Stein at that time that I was the right man and it did take me a long time to convince him in the late 70s and early 80s.
“I’d made my debut in 1975, but it was 1978 before my second cap and, for two or three years after that, I was trying to prove myself in the side.
“At the end of the 1980-81 season, we beat England at Wembley and I think that was the game that got me properly established in the international team.
“There were one or two blips thereafter, but I think that game convinced Jock Stein and other observers that playing for Aberdeen you could be an international player, before that it could be very difficult to convince people.
“So that second half in Israel definitely played it’s part I think, it was a vital period in my international career.
The 65-year-old added: “I seem to remember we had a bench with no covering and I was sitting there pretty despondent at half-time after seeing how Scotland had played and having not started.
“Then Jim McLean (the assistant manager) came sprinting out of the dressing room and told me I’d be going on.
“That was good news for me and I think it was good news for the team because we were much better in the second half – although I’m not saying it was all down to me – but I did play a part.
When Scotland first played Israel in 1981 they knew very little about the opponents they would be facing.
That won’t be the case for Steve Clarke’s side tomorrow, with sides having locked horns on five occasions since October 2018.
Miller, who played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups for Scotland, said: “When we played Israel it was a completely different environment to now and you didn’t have the same knowledge of what we were up against.
“We knew, if we didn’t take the points, we would get pelted when we came back home.
“But nowadays we know a lot more about them and they have players we’re very familiar with because they play in top leagues throughout Europe.
“They are a team Scotland should beat, because I think Scotland are better, but it won’t be easy.