STATISTICS show Fabio Capello to have been the most successful England manager of the modern era.
Under his charge, the Three Lions came out on top in 28 of the 42 matches between 2008 and 2012, a win percentage of 66.7%.
Compare that to Sir Alf Ramsey, the man who guided England to the 1966 World Cup, whose success rate was just 61.1%
The Italian led his adopted nation to the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa with a perfect eight victories from eight games, and also oversaw qualification for the 2012 Euros.
Yet, as Capello admits, there was one nation that somehow stayed out of his hitting reach – Scotland.
“I would say that is a great regret for me,” said the man who in his time has also coached both of last night’s Champions League finalists, Real Madrid and Juventus, as well as the all-conquering AC Milan side of the 1990s.
“I was with England for four years. When I went in, I already knew Scotland versus England was special, but during my time in the job I learned a lot more.
“And it is a fascinating history, one of the most beautiful there is in the sport.
“This is the oldest international fixture in the world.
“When you play or manage in it, you are connecting with a tradition which goes all the way back (to 1872 and the first meeting at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow) to football’s first days. That is a real privilege.
“Unfortunately, I myself never got the chance to be involved in one.
“But, of course, after I left, the fixture remained of interest to me and I have watched their meetings in recent years.
“The huge crowds which were attracted to London and Glasgow for the friendly matches (in 2013 and 2014) were a reminder how big this international derby really is.
“Now, of course, there is something much more at stake – World Cup qualification – so that takes it to another level.
“And this game, in particular, should be a fantastic spectacle.
“When the countries met in London last November, we saw confirmation that Scotland were not as strong as England, with the home side winning 3-0.
“At the same time, there was evidence to suggest that Scotland can win this time because they showed great grit and determination at Wembley.
“For me, these are qualities which I have always associated with the country.
“I have fond memories of Joe Jordan who, like myself, played in Italy with Milan. He was a great striker.
“Such endeavour is good to see and, more importantly, it is crucial when you are not at quite as high a technical rate as your opponents.
“I have seen Scotland play several times, and I have to say they are a good team, one which, while not able to qualify for the Finals of the major tournaments, has nevertheless been much improved in recent years.
“The manager, Gordon Strachan, has a side in which the individual players work hard for one another, and play with attacking flair.
“And while we all know the strongest team usually comes out on top over a season, in one game, everything is possible.”
Capello, famed as a tactician in his time coaching and now an astute analyst for FOX Sports television, warns that Scotland’s passion and pride will need to be tempered by composure.
“Playing in Glasgow is certainly an advantage,” says the 70-year-old.
“But you have to be careful because the great energy of the fans in these situations can lead players to become too fired up.
“It is when games become too frenzied that you start to see mistakes.
“Scotland must have the ability and desire to play the way they can, but they must also have the patience to wait for the right time to try to strike.
“If they do that, then who is to say they will not get the result they, and all the supporters, desire?
“Should that happen, I am sure the celebrations will be able to be heard for many, many miles!”
But how would the Italian – a man who is on record stating his Wembley winner for Italy in a 1973 friendly against England was the highlight of a playing career littered with success – feel about such an upset?
His time managing England might have been statistically successful, but things didn’t always run smoothly.
Praised for getting the Three Lions to the big tournaments, he was criticised when they failed to live up to expectations on the big stage and crashed out of the 2010 World Cup in the second round.
A dispute with the FA about John Terry’s captaincy (in the wake of the player’s row with Anton Ferdinand) led to Capello quitting ahead of Euro 2012, with Roy Hodgson stepping in to fill the breach.
“I have agreed not to speak of such things, so I don’t,” said Capello, a reference to the confidentiality agreement signed on his departure.
“What I will say is that I am very happy to comment on the English matches which I do for FOX Sports.
“Even now, I still sometimes hear talk of certain clubs wanting me to return to management – Inter was one recently – but my current job gives me great pleasure.
“The English Premier League is the top, a beautiful championship where there is both quality and agony.
“There is not a moment of rest, and players do not spare themselves anything in trying to deliver victory for their teams.
“That attitude is greatly appreciated by the fans. You can see that when you watch the games because even after a defeat they usually applaud their team.
“It is a very different culture from Italy and Spain, who this year provided the Champions League finalists.
“Serie A is the most tactical league in Europe, without a doubt.
“The Italian coaches are real masters. The matches are prepared down to the slightest detail, and nothing is left to chance.
“La Liga, on the other hand, is the realm of beautiful football and technique.
“There are so many stars there, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are for me the best players in the whole of the world.
“When you look at Real Madrid, it is similar to looking at the Scotland-England game. You are overwhelmed by their history, their past.
“Wherever you look at the Bernabeu, there are trophies, exceptional photos of successes going back years and years.
“There will be plenty of people who will disagree, of course, but for me Real Madrid is the most important club in the world.”