“It certainly wasn’t one of the most memorable moments of my career or what I would class as a highlight.”
England’s World Cup dreams are over even before they face Costa Rica on Tuesday.
The mere mention of Roy Hodgson’s opponents brings back painful memories for Alan McInally.
The former Celtic, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich frontman was part of the Scotland side that suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica in their opening game at Italia 90.
“It certainly wasn’t one of the most memorable moments of my career or what I would class as a highlight,” says McInally.
“But every player involved that day will tell you the same. It was a terrible result and a shocking way to start the World Cup Finals.
“I’m often asked: ‘What went wrong?’ And I’m sure it’s the same for the rest of the guys who played in the game.
“Did we prepare well enough? Was our knowledge of the players we were facing good enough and was enough research carried out and passed on to the players?
“Well, I remember Andy Roxburgh saying before the game the Costa Rica keeper was a pub goalie and vulnerable at cross balls.
“We delivered a cross as soon as we possibly could and the keeper came out and collected it with one hand!
“I remember we just looked at each other at that very moment and realised what we had been told wasn’t entirely accurate!
“But we didn’t play well enough on the day, and we paid the price by losing the match, which left us up against it from the off.
“Brazil only managed to beat them 1-0 and Costa Rica also managed to defeat Sweden during that same group campaign. So they couldn’t have been that bad a side.”
Similar to back in 1990, Costa Rica were written off before the current World Cup but shocked Uruguay by beating them in their opening match, and they could still qualify for the next round if they beat Roy Hodgson’s side.
McInally continues: “Even before the tournament kicked off in Brazil, I didn’t fancy England to make their mark in the competition. I was actually asked before the tournament how far I thought they could go.
“I replied that if they did manage to scrap through their group, then the knockout round would be as far as they’d get. Even so, if England lose to Costa Rica this week, I’m sure they’ll be criticised just as much as we were back in Italy.”
McInally loved playing for his country he won eight caps and scored three goals in dark blue and he hopes to see Scotland back at the World Cup in the future.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of a Scotland side that reached and took part in the World Cup,” says the man once dubbed ‘Rambo’, who’s now 51.
“I’m sure if you asked any of my team-mates from Italia 90, they would say the same.
“You only have to look at how long it has been since Scotland last competed at that level, and the amount of players who have tried over the past 16 years but never managed to experience what it is like.
“The good news, though, is we are back heading in the right direction. Gordon Strachan is doing a fine job and he’s getting the maximum out of the players available to him.
“He’s a mellower manager than perhaps he was when he was operating at club level, and you can tell the players enjoy working under him.
“Hopefully we can reach the next European Championship Finals in France, and that would be a start. But like everyone else, I hope to see the day when Scotland are back gracing the World Cup.”