Lou Macari was one of four Manchester United players in Scotland's squad for the 1978 World Cup finals, along with Martin Buchan, Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen. He spoke to us about the experience...
How did Scotland’s World Cup adventure of 1978 acquire such infamy?
It was probably the most bizarre Scottish campaign ever. We secured our place at the World Cup by beating Wales and, somehow, a momentum built up in the press about us not only getting there but winning it! I laugh now when I look back. We even went around Hampden Park on an open-top bus, before the tournament, with a replica of the World Cup at the front! We had a very good team but it was never going to be good enough to conquer the world, not in Argentina’s backyard, with Brazil also competing and far more used to the conditions than we were. We got the results that you might have realistically expected us to get, although we did beat Holland, the eventual runners-up. Everything was stacked against us really: the heat, the humidity – even the balls were different.
What can you recall of being selected for the Scottish squad?
We started with a list of 80 players and, even though I’d played in the games to get us to the World Cup, I wasn’t confident I was going to be in the final squad because the 80 candidates were all genuine. The next cut-off was 40 and after that it was just a matter of keeping my fingers crossed. Then the manager announced the final squad and I was in it. Naturally, I was delighted.
Did your World Cup experience live up to your expectations?
Well, I had no real idea what it was going to be like. I didn’t know anything about the other teams in our group, Peru or Iran, so it wasn’t like nowadays when you’d have dossiers on the teams you were facing. So we went