The plucky Scots, so often football’s heroic failures, have swept to victory against all the odds after the much-fancied Millennium Dome flopped early in the tournament, having failed to get the crowd behind it.
The Parly is a deserving victor, having kept the local crowd on its toes ever since the team was picked back in 1998. First there was the uproar over the selection of a foreigner – the late Enric Miralles – as captain. Critics felt the Catalan wizard’s flamboyant, some would say extravagant, Latin style was unsuited to the Scottish game, which values certainty and economy above all else.
In return, Miralles was justifiably angered that, having been handed the captaincy, he was not given the resources to import the “sexy” continental style that had so impressed the selectors.
Miralles’ baffling continental tactics caused open warfare among Scottish team grandees already angered at manager Donald Dewar’s politically motivated decision to switch the venue from Calton Hill – scene of previous national triumphs – to the cramped Holyrood ground.
Nationalists, journalists and self-appointed experts of every hue queued up to condemn the side’s extravagance and lack of a cohesive game plan. But at the end of the day, Miralles’ dazzling brilliance proved the saving grace. His strategy of making up tactics on the hoof bamboozled the opposition as much as his allies, thus ensuring victory.
It is debatable whether the team in its present form can survive the star’s tragic death. With local workhorse RMJM stepping into the captain’s shoes, it is likely to be a very different team limbering up in Athens in four years’ time.