By Ryan Gallacher
Today marks ten years since one of the most celebrated days in the Scottish national team’s recent history.
No, not that James McFadden goal in Paris – that happened in September.
It is in fact a decade since England missed out on Euro 2008 qualification with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Croatia; a night which saw a 22 year-old Scott Carson effectively destroy his England career before it had even begun, and the final nail in the coffin of Steve McClaren’s tenure as manager.
And who could forget? That picture of a miserable McClaren underneath his umbrella: the photo that launched a thousand memes.
It must be said though, that ten years is a long time in football and as such, England have at least managed to qualify for all five major tournaments since then.
As we know all too well, the same cannot be said for Scotland.
So let us forget about our own shortcomings, and cast our minds back to that infamous Wembley night in 2007, and see where McClaren’s Three Lions flops are now…
Goalkeeper – Scott Carson
A Champions League winner with Liverpool in 2005, Carson’s career never really took off from there, partially down to his gaffe in conceding the opening goal in this game, the occasion of just his second cap. Only eight minutes in, Carson flapped at Nico Kranjcar’s speculative effort from distance, sending it into his own net. Now at Derby County, Carson has earned just two further caps since, with runners-up medals in the Turkish Cup (with Bursaspor) and the Championship (with West Brom) his other post-Croatia career highlights.
Right-back – Micah Richards
The youngest defender ever to receive a call-up for England in 2006, Richards seems to be a classic example of what might have been. Just 19 at the time of the Croatia match, Richards’ time as an England regular was short-lived and has had bad luck with injury – including, incredibly, a bout of swine flu. He has been at Aston Villa since 2015, but has been usurped as captain by John Terry, and also missed out on Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad to Phil Jones. Oh, the indignity.
Centre-back – Sol Campbell
One of the biggest names in the squad, Campbell had previously been dropped by McClaren, and was only restored to the side due to injuries to fellow bombscares Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson. Campbell found himself more than able to step into their shoes, making his final England appearances as their qualification campaigned crashed and burned. Campbell has had an interesting time since retiring in 2011, having had a failed bid to become the Tory candidate for Mayor of London in 2016. A staunch Brexit voter, he is now assistant manager of Trinidad and Tobago.
Centre-back – Joleon Lescott
Arguably at his peak during his Everton days, Lescott moved to Manchester City for a reported £22 million (!!!) less than two years after the Euro 2008 campaign ended. He did however go on to be part of the squad for the 2012 competition, even scoring against France. He has had a bizarre time since, having his contract at AEK Athens terminated after an argument with team doctors, then playing a small role in Sunderland’s disastrous 2016-17 season under David Moyes. He then failed a medical at Rangers during the summer, underlining his commitment to banter.
Left-back – Wayne Bridge
Bridge managed to win 36 caps in an eventful career, which included Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals. His England career ended in dramatic fashion however, withdrawing from the squad after former teammate John Terry had been accused of having an affair with his girlfriend. This was about as much publicity Bridge had received in recent years, before finishing fifth in last year’s edition of I’m a Celebrity…
Central midfield – Steven Gerrard
Often hailed as one of the country’s best-ever midfielders, Gerrard played 114 times for England, his biggest major honour in service of his country being an MBE he was awarded just a month after the Croatia defeat. He spent a year at LA Galaxy from 2015-16, and has since rejoined his beloved Liverpool as a youth coach.
Central midfield – Gareth Barry
Barry has had a very successful career despite having no real outstanding skill apart from being “dependable”. He achieved over 50 caps for England and recently surpassed Ryan Giggs’ Premier League appearance record.
Central midfield – Frank Lampard
Another midfielder hailed as one of England’s best-ever, Franky Lamps made over 100 appearances for his country, with the defining moment coming at the 2010 World Cup. His ghost goal against Germany and the subsequent furore was another source of great joy to Tartan Army fans. After leaving Chelsea, Lampard had spells with Manchester City and New York City FC (kind of the same thing) and is now a panellist on ITV’s ‘Play to the Whistle’. Whatever that is.
Winger – Shaun Wright-Phillips
Following a promising start to his career, Wright-Phillips’ descent seemed to start with a move to QPR in 2011 (which seems to be a common theme), and a subsequent move to the US, joining his brother Bradley at the New York Red Bulls. After just one season, he was loaned out to their friends New York Red Bulls II. He now finds himself at Phoenix Rising FC, playing alongside Didier Drogba.
Winger – Joe Cole
Another who surprisingly made over 50 appearances for England, Cole joins the list of those who promised so much, and instead followed a totally bizarre career path. After a year on loan at Lille, Cole never really hit the heights that his early days at West Ham and Chelsea had hinted at. He returned to England with underwhelming spells at a few clubs, including two at Coventry City. He now plies his trade at US side Tampa Bay Rowdies, whose roster includes Neill Collins, who started his career in the less-sunny climes of Kilmarnock.
Striker – Peter Crouch
Ah, Crouchy. If ever there was a player to bring fans together, it is the gangly forward known as much for his dancing as anything else. His actual scoring record for England is very impressive, averaging over a goal every two games, showing that a more agricultural style of play for the national team may have been justifiable. He has enjoyed spells at almost every bottom-half Premier League side, and now mostly warms the bench at Stoke City at the age of 36.
Manager – Steve McClaren
The man who brought it all together. McClaren left his post the day after the Croatia defeat with just a 50% win rate, but has since had no shortage of work. He has had work in Holland, Germany and now Israel as a ‘coaching consultant’ for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He has also had two completely unnecessary spells as Derby boss. It is hardly a coincidence then, that his finest post-Croatia moment was also England-related, as he produced a moment of television gold as Iceland scored their winner against the Three Lions at Euro 2016, once again bringing joy to millions.