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Today’s the day.
After 23 years, Scotland’s absence from the finals of a major international football tournament will end at 2pm when the national team takes on the Czech Republic at Hampden Stadium in their opening match of Euro 2020.
It’s an occasion that has got the whole nation talking, not least Colin Montgomerie.
The eight-time European Tour No.1 is a huge football fan and, as he told a recent episode of The bunkered Podcast in association with Motocaddy, he was there to cheer on his fellow Scots the last time they played at this level, in the 1998 World Cup.
“I went to Paris,” explained Monty. “The opening match. Brazil-Scotland. I took my father and brother with me. We were guests of Canon Cameras, one of the sponsors of the tournament, and we had the late Sean Connery and Jackie Stewart sat in front of us.
“When ‘Flower of Scotland’ was played, it seemed like 80% of the fans in the stadium were Scottish. It was unbelievable. I’ll never forget it. The opening match of the World Cup.”
After going behind to an early goal scored by the defending champions, Scotland levelled shortly before half-time when John Collins stroked home a penalty.
Montgomerie recalled the scene as the ball hit the net.
“It was absolutely bananas,” he said. “I’d never seen anything like it. Sean Connery’s sitting in front of us, a fan. Jackie Stewart, a fan. Jumping up and down in their seats. It was incredible. Absolutely incredible.”
After Monday’s match with the Czechs, the Scots travel to Wembley to face England on Friday before returning to Hampden to take on Croatia on June 22 in their final Group D match. Hopes are high that Steve Clarke’s men can do something no other Scottish side has done in either the Euros or the World Cup by qualifying for the knock-out stages of the championship.
Montgomerie would love that, too, but like most supporters, he’s just happy the wait for today is finally over.
“You can’t believe it’s been that long, you know?” he said. “We wish them every success.”
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