Scotland Profile

Year Founded 1872

The Scotland national football team lays claim to being the joint-oldest national team in the world, having played the first international match against England in 1872.

As a team, Scotland, are older than even the Scottish Football Association which has overseen them since 1873.

Scotland are not eligible to enter the Olympic Games football competition but can send players when Great Britain enters a team.

In 11 attempts at major championships, Scotland have never managed to get out of their initial group. They have been involved in eight FIFA World Cups and three UEFA European Championships.

Scotland have enjoyed some notable results including their 1967 triumph over freshly-crowned world champions England. They also won the British Home Nation Championship 24 times.

Scotland's early history

Scotland's football team, 1872

In the early days of the Scotland team, they were confined to playing matches against the other home nations, EnglandWales and Ireland.

They took on England in the first official international football match, at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland on 30 November 1872.

Scotland named an XI made up entirely of players from the Glasgow-based amateur club Queen's Park for the match against England which ended in a goalless draw.

The team began to enjoy regular competition in the British Home Championship from 1883 and developed fierce rivalries against neighbours England as well as Wales and Ireland.

Scotland lost just twice in their first 43 international matches, while their early competition with the home nations elevated their football, it was a failure to look beyond that would see them decline.

The team would humble England at Wembley 5-1 in 1928 and a year later play their first game outside of the British Isles beating Norway 7-3 in Bergen.

Scotland, along with the other home nations, did not enter the three FIFA World Cups held during the 1930s due to a dispute with the global body regarding the status of amateur players.

The Scots rejoined FIFA after the Second World War.

Early World Cup appearances

Scotland, 1958 World Cup

Scotland qualified for the 1950 World Cup but failed to meet the SFA's condition of winning the British Home Championship, and despite the pleas of players they were dispatched on a tour of North America instead.

The team again qualified for the 1954 World Cup but once again the SFA were seemingly bent on handicapping their own team as they only allowed a squad of 13 players to be sent to Switzerland. Scotland lost both their matches including a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of defending world champions Uruguay.

In 1958, Scotland had designs on the great Matt Busby managing the team in the World Cup, but the injuries he sustained in the Munich air disaster prevented him from fulfilling his commitment.

James Murray scored the first Scotland goal at a World Cup in their 1954 group stage opener against Yugoslavia, but a 3-2 defeat to Paraguay and a 2-1 loss to France saw the team bow out early.

Scotland would wait 16 years to appear at a World Cup again, failing to qualify for the Chile, England and Mexico tournaments.

The Scots earned a famous victory over England in 1967 but would only challenge at a World Cup again in 1974.

Returning to the World Cup

Scotland at the 1974 World Cup

Through the 1970s and '80s Scotland became World Cup regulars but still could not get beyond their group.

They found themselves drawn against stiff opposition in West Germany in '74 and although they acquitted themselves well in beating Zaire and drawing against Brazil and Yugoslavia, they failed to progress on goals scored.

Not long before the 1978 World Cup, Scotland brought in Ally MacLeod as manager which turned around performances, and they would win the British Home Championship, securing another famous win over England, this time fans took pieces of the pitch back to Scotland with them.

At the 1978 World Cup, drawn against less illustrious opponents, Scotland fell flat going down in a shock 3-1 defeat to Peru first up, stumbling to a draw against Iran before earning a consolation 3-2 win over the Netherlands.

In 1982 they found themselves opposite footballing superpowers Brazil and the Soviet Union. They would force a draw against the USSR but the 4-1 loss suffered against Brazil could not be offset by a 5-2 win over New Zealand. Even bolstered by Liverpool legends, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen, Scotland could not progress.

Scotland reached their fourth consecutive World Cup finals in Mexico but finished bottom of their group after successive losses against Denmark and West Germany before they stuttered to a goalless draw against Uruguay. A side in transition was clearly struggling to adjust to life after Dalglish.

In 1990, Scotland went down in another opening match upset, losing 1-0 to Costa Rica thanks to Juan Cayasso's goal. Costa Rica would progress from the group at the expense of Scotland and Sweden who might have fancied themselves in a duel for second behind Brazil. Scotland beat Sweden but could only hold Brazil at bay for 81 minutes.

Debuting in the European Championships

Scotland had not reached the finals of the European Championships before they made it to Sweden in 1992.

They swept to victory in their qualifying group ahead of Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria. With four goals, Ally McCoist was the top Scottish scorer en route to the tournament but come finals time he couldn't produce and they were eliminated at the group stage.

Andy Roxburgh resigned from his position as Scotland manager after failing to guide the team to the 1994 World Cup and he was replaced by Craig Brown.

Brown would steer Scotland to Euro '96 and a massive group stage tie against England, which came after they had earned a point with a goalless draw against the Netherlands. They lost 2-0 to England and despite a McCoist-inspired win over Switzerland, they yet again could not get beyond the group stage.

Scotland vs Switzerland, Euro '96

Two years later Brown helmed Scotland's run to the World Cup, where they were again drawn in a group with Brazil. They opened the tournament at the Stade de France and sensationally equalised from the penalty spot through John Collins just before the break, but an own-goal from Thomas Boyd denied them a point.

Scotland drew against Norway thanks to a 66th-minute strike from Craig Burley, but a shock defeat to Morocco in their final group game put paid to any hopes of progression.

Recent years and return to the Euros

Scotland's quest to reach a major championship has suffered through near misses and outright failure.

In 2016, a draw at home to Lithuania during their qualifying group, cost Scotland a shot at a play-off to reach the 2018 World Cup. They finished third in their section behind England and Slovakia.

Scotland went unbeaten through their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign but finished third in their group and needed to come through a play-off path to make it to the expanded championships.

By virtue of a good showing in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Scotland earned promotion to the tournament's Division B and a place in the 2020 play-off tournament.

Scotland needed a penalty shootout win to see off Israel and book a date with Serbia in Belgrade with a place at the Euros on the line.

Scotland beat Serbia in a Euro 2020 play-off

Ryan Christie gave Scotland the lead in that match before a late equaliser from Luka Jovic forced the game into extra time. Scotland were faced with another penalty shootout and held their nerve again to ensure manager Steve Clarke ended the wait to reach a major championship after 22 years.

Clarke enjoys the services of perhaps Scotland's best players for some time, including Premier League stars Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, but the team retains a feeling that it is greater than the sum of its parts.

Scotland's legends

Scotland has had a great deal of influence over the English game, and many of the greatest Scots played their best football in the English top flight rather than their national leagues.

Jim Baxter was one of Scotland's earliest footballing heroes emerging just after the war, and playing a part in the famous victory over England in 1967 when he reportedly did "keepy uppies" to taunt the world champions after breaking down the wing.

With 102 caps Dalglish's place among Scotland's greatest is assured and he thrived at both Celtic and Liverpool.

Kenny Dalglish, Scotland

Also on Merseyside, the likes of Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness helped bring silverware into Anfield if not bring glory to Scotland.

Manchester United's Denis Law is tied with Dalglish as the country's all-time leading goalscorer, with 30 international goals to his name.

Gordon Strachan became a famous manager but also won his fair share of accolades as a player. The right-sided midfielder appeared in two World Cups for Scotland.

A cult hero at Rangers, Ally McCoist also deserves to be talked about as being among the best to pull on a Scotland jersey. The target man had a knack for scoring crucial goals in a team that didn't always create a lot of chances.

Biggest rivals

England are, of course, Scotland's great rival and the one team they want to beat at all costs.

Beating England is for some in Scotland greater than winning the World Cup, but they also have fierce rivalries with the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

There is a strong Irish influence on the Scottish game through migration and the history of Glasgow Celtic.

Clashes with England have turned ugly in the past due to hooligan elements among both sets of supporters.

The 1937 British Home Nation Championship match against England set a world record for attendance at a football game with the official figure given as 149,415.

A passionate fanbase

Known as the 'Tartan Army', Scotland fans have evolved over the years to become a fun-loving group known for bringing a party atmosphere to matches.

Scottish fans earned a bad reputation in England with most of it attributable to bad behaviour during the 1977 match at Wembley when fans broke the goalposts and stole the turf at the home of English football.

Since those dark days, work has been done to discourage violent elements and the fans of the international side are well received and have even won awards honouring their spirit and peacefulness.