Craig Burley on France '98: "You may as well play Brazil, score a goal, dye your hair and get sent off"
What were your feelings when Scotland were drawn in the opening game against Brazil?
Scotland went totally mad, and expectations were running a bit too high. We had a good group of experienced players, but there was obviously trepidation. The world was going to be watching us play in the Stade de France. We were worried we might totally embarrass ourselves.
When did the enormity of the occasion hit you?
Not until we headed to the ground. We stayed at this chateau in Paris the night before, and for some reason Tony Blair turned up and did all the b****cks handshake stuff. But when we got on the bus we saw fans everywhere! Brazilian, French, Scots. It hits you like a ton of bricks.
What did Craig Brown say before kick-off?
When we were standing in the tunnel with the Brazil players, Craig turned to us and said: "they're s***ting themselves, lads!" He used to do this quite often as psychology. But we burst out laughing. You turn round and see Dunga, Rivaldo and Ronaldo – they aren't s***ting themselves.
You lost a goal after four minutes. The worry must have multiplied...
Totally. We gave away a bad goal, a combination of myself and John Collins not doing our job at the near post. I thought: "if I'd bet on them scoring eight, I might be quids in. There's going to be a f***ing avalanche of goals."
How good were the Brazilians?
Brilliant. They've just got this aura. I was up against Roberto Carlos. I was never quick, and I kept thinking: "if this t**t kicks it past me, I'm done for." But we got back in it. Brazil dominated, but our nerves settled, and in the end Tom Boyd's own goal was very unfortunate. If we'd sneaked a draw we'd have been delighted, but we hadn't embarrassed ourselves.
Was the camp happy?
Wee Brownie wasn't the most popular manager with his 3-5-2 formation, but we understood how he wanted to do things. We'd lost Gary McAllister to injury, but John Collins was a great player. Personally, I was frustrated playing wing-back when I'd been so effective in the middle for Celtic.
Next up was a 1-1 with Norway, and a Burley goal...
We went 1-0 down, Colin Calderwood got injured and I ended up playing down the middle at last. I got on the end of a long ball and lobbed the keeper. It was awesome when it went in, although I didn't look awesome the next day. There was a photo of me celebrating with no front teeth. The headline was 'Fangs A Million!' But it kept us in the tournament.
Then came Morocco, a 3-0 defeat, a red card and elimination...
My biggest regret is dying my hair blond! A few of the lads went out for beers and decided to dye our hair. Like a mug, I was the only one who did. The next day, Alec Miller, who is not the most charismatic person, said to me: "you're going to have to play f***ing brilliant with a haircut like that." I didn't. The sending off was a rush of blood to the head. Morocco were better than we thought and we weren't at the races. The boy skipped to the side of me and I sliced him down cynically. I don't know why. I went to the changing room, poured a cup of tea and heard a roar. I thought: "I bet that's not a f***ing Scotland goal." The headline the next day read: 'Moroccans 3, Morons 0'.
But you still look back on the tournament with good memories?
Oh yeah. Scotland aren't going to win the World Cup, so you might as well open the tournament, play Brazil, score a goal, dye your hair and then get sent off!