RANGERS assistant manager Davie Weir played in so many memorable games during his remarkable playing career but he admits the Scotland-England matches of November 1999 are up there with the biggest he was involved in.
Back then the Auld Enemy were sensationally drawn together in the play-offs for Euro 2000 which meant Craig Brown’s squad would welcome Kevin Keegan’s men to Hampden on 13 November 1999 before travelling to Wembley four days later.
A double from Paul Scholes at Scotland’s national stadium gave England a 2-0 victory and few believed the Scots could recover from this blow.
In the second leg however, Brown’s side somehow managed to stop their opponents – with Alan Shearer and Michael Owen in attack – from having a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes and Don Hutchinson headed home the only goal of the game in the 39th minute.
The visitors continued to pour forward in the second half and with 10 minutes remaining a close range header from former Ger Christian Dailly was instinctively palmed away by David Seaman when it looked certain Scotland would level the score.
While it was a famous victory at Wembley which the Tartan Army enjoyed it wasn’t enough to qualify and it was another case of so near yet so far.
17 years on and Weir will be attending Friday night’s World Cup qualifier as a football fan and he admits being in the stadium again for this occasion will bring back memories from ’99.
Speaking exclusively to RangersTV he said: “Definitely. It’s always nice to go to the Scotland-England games, it brings back a lot of good memories.
“Obviously it’s a historical game and I’m really excited about the game on Friday – I’m looking forward to Scotland winning!
“I think England will be favourites because they have got really really good players playing at probably a better level than the majority of our players.
They’ll be favourites but like in any game you’ve always got a chance and I’m sure the Scotland team will be up for it.
“And obviously having Lee Wallace there we’ve got a vested interested as well.”
When asked what his most vivid memories are from the second leg at Wembley in 1999, Ibrox legend Weir said: “I remember winning to be honest, that was the biggest thing.
“I remember playing really well, but I ultimately remember the disappointment at not qualifying for Euro 2000 – that was the biggest disappointment.
“We lost the first game at Hampden and we didn’t quite do enough in the game at Wembley, but it was a fantastic atmosphere with the Scotland fans taking over Wembley.
“The noise and the singing that came from them, it was really encouraging for the players and it was really a fantastic atmosphere for a night game at Wembley. So hopefully more of the same on Friday.”
On the pre-match build-up to the double header in ’99, Davie continued: “It was really intense because it was a play-off game with Scotland and England drawn together, so you can imagine the build-up in the weeks leading up to the game was very big and then as the game got closer that heightened.
It was a really special occasion. England, as always, were full of quality players with Beckham, Scholes, Tony Adams and Michael Owen, top players at the peak of their game, but we probably felt as a unit we could challenge them.
“So it was exciting times and two games back-to-back really quickly which added to it.
“The first one didn’t go our way, Paul Scholes scoring a couple of goals as he usually did.
“We were chasing a little bit so big disappointment but we partially turned it around in the second game. Unfortunately not enough.
“I can remember Don Hutchinson scoring the goal and Barry Ferguson playing really well and Neil McCann playing really well and us managing to keep them quiet at the other end as well.
“So it was a great occasion and ultimately disappointing because we didn’t win, but a good performance.
“Craig Brown was the Scotland manager at the time and he gave us a great deal of confidence and belief in respect of we could still go and get a result, and he was very good at that.
“Whatever the opponent, whatever the occasion, he always instilled a sense of belief that you were capable of getting a result.
“A lot of people were writing us off going into the game but he definitely wasn’t one of them.
Craig always had us very well prepared, he was always very detailed in regards to the opposition and where we could hurt them and also our strengths and doing what we do best.
“We went in there full of confidence, definitely the underdog but with a strong belief.”
Big games require big players to stand up and be counted and Weir concedes Seaman’s point blank save from Dailly’s header with 10 minutes of the second leg remaining was so vital for the three lions.
He said: “I think it was from a corner, a cross, and Christian got a great header on it and just made good contact. But unfortunately it was in close enough proximity that David Seaman could save it.
“If that had gone in I genuinely think we would have gone on and won because they were definitely on the back foot and definitely struggling. We’ll never know.”
The disappointment from not qualifying for Euro 2000 clearly still lingers but Weir feels fortunate to have played his part in two historic Auld Enemy clashes.
He added: “Yeah definitely. You always remember the ones you win more to be honest.
“You always remember the good times and try and forget about the bad times, but to win against England at Wembley is a good memory and to be involved in an England-Scotland fixture at any time is a fantastic occasion.”