Rangers were indeed linked with Jess often, especially as I'm pretty sure he had been on their books as a schoolboy and they had released him.
I was always highly impressed with his sheer talent at least. He had plenty of salad days but you could see someone who had a vision and an awareness that was wholly alien to Scottish players of the era. I recall in particular a great performance he put in for Aberdeen in a European tie against Torino, this at a time when Torino were a pretty strong side. He was instrumental in Aberdeen going 2-0 up, although they lost 3-2 in the end if my mind's not playing tricks on me.
As I remember it, he kept dropping off from attack into the hole and Torino just couldn't handle his movement at all. Bear in mind that all the hole meant back then to your average Scottish footballer was what they hoped to get at the end of a night out at The Cotton Club.
Scotland did produce players of real talent as late as the early 90s, albeit as flawed as our nation's footballers have always been. Rangers had a series of really clever and aware midfield playmakers through from Derek Ferguson to Sandy Robertson. Robertson looked like he could have had a great career but turned out to be a drunk and an absolute headcase off the pitch.
I just checked his Wiki page to see what happened to him actually. His career ended in 2002 at the age of 31, but in his 14 years as a professional he made only 114 appearances for 12 different clubs. What a waste.
The mention of Eoin Jess made me feel very nostalgic for a time when Scottish teams produced some real talent and we could afford to keep them until they passed their driving test. He was a Rangers youth team player, but I guess he wasn't the type for them to keep. Jess played 18 times for Scotland and really played a very modern role behind the striker, dropping off into space. Was/is a nice guy as well.
The Dodds/Winters move was bizarre, almost as crazy as Alex Miller ditching Dean Windass....
Great posts on Jess.
Absolutely. When Souness arrived Rangers had a genuinely thrilling midfield with the manager himself, Derek Ferguson, Durrant and of course Davie Cooper on the left wing. For one reason or another they rarely ever played as a unit and Durrant and Derek Ferguson never had the career they should have. Then there was Sandy Robertson and I remember Derek McInnes looking a real prospect too.
Back then everyone complained that the skilled Scottish players just weren't as skilled as the generations that went before. Now that was true, but they at least were identifiable as coming from the same species: whether the Rangers guys, Paul McStay and John Collins at Celtic, Bobby Russell having an indian summer at Motherwell with Lambert, Jim Bett who ran the Aberdeen midfield, even through to dicks like Chic Charnley - a bampot but one who you could seee could play the game when he put his mind to it.
You'd have those days back like a shot though. Barry Ferguson divides opinion I grant you but he's the only one in recent years even remotely identifiable with some of the names above.
I do agree that Scottish football stifles players and that the ones who have moved abroad benefitted enormously. Collins and lambert as you mentioned, but even guys like Eric Black, Ray Stephen and Mo Johnston all adapted and did well enough in France when given the chance to.
Derek McInnes was 24 before he joined Rangers, when he first broke into the Morton side he looked like he could be quite special, I was surprised he didn't move from Morton sooner.
It's difficult to judge properly in Div 3 but Lewis MacLeod looks like he has the game to go on a be something special. The best young Scottish midfielder I've seen in recent years is Jamie Ness. He has everything except the ability to stay fit, I wonder if it is physical or if it is now psychological with him.
Russell and Mackay-Steven at Utd look promising.
I've been involved in a discussion on youth development on another board recently. We looked at the Scotland under 19 side that made the final of the European Championship in 2006. They are all in their mid-20s now. Two of them now play in the EPL, Darren Fletcher and Graham Dorrans, a couple are in the SPL and a couple more in the Championship or League 1 in England. The rest are either in the lower leagues or out of the game. Lee Wallace is with us but should be playing at SPL level at least. It's a really poor return on what was arguably the best ever Scottish representative side.
Interestingly Celtic had six players in the squad, the most of any side, who between them amassed only 4 first team games, most having now disappeared into obscurity.
One of them, Michael McGlinchey, ended up going to the 2010 World Cup with New Zealand.
Hearts' Owners, Ukio Bankas, have been put into administration by Lithuania's banking regulator. Armageddon Pt II?
I seem to remember that when McInnes first broke through at Morton, his name was often paired with Alan Mahood, another highly promising midfield prospect, and who if anything was regarded as the more talented of the two, I recall. However, while McInnes earned a move to Rangers and later went to England, Mahood's trajectory seemed to stall, and he spent a few more years at Morton before having a decent spell at Kilmarnock.
McGlinchey had a brief loan spell at Motherwell to keep himself fit before the World Cup in South Africa. He was fouled to earn a penalty, subsequently missed, in the 6-6 draw with Hibs.
That side that AMMS quotes in 2006 ended up producing 5 internationalist, not including McGlinchey. That's not a bad return, really. Although one is Garry Kenneth so it's all relative.
Young Scottish players still aren't given much of a chance in the SPL, despite the seemingly common-held belief that sides like Hibs, Killie and Motherwell are full of them. Kilmarnock -Motherwell on Saturday had only 6 Scottish players starting, and 3 of them( Fowler, Hammell and Lasley)aren't exactly youngsters.
As for Jess, wasn't he affected by a broken leg around 92/93? I think he was part of an impressive Scotland U-21 that knocked out Romania and the beat Germany 4-3 in the Euro u-21s. That side qualified for the Olympics but obviously didn't take part. Here's the side from the Germany game:
24th March 1992
Scotland 4 (McKinnon, Creaney, Lambert, Rae) Germany 3 (Kranz, Scholl, Herrlich)
Scotland: Watt, McLaren, Wright, Lambert, Smith, Fulton (Rae), Jess (Gemmill), O'Donnell, Creaney, McKinnon, Ferguson.
A fair few injury-destroyed players in that line-up, not least Stephen Wright (I'm assuming it's him and not Keith Wright) and Alan McLaren.
As for Michael McGlinchey, he sadly never actually got off the bench for NZ in South Africa.
Speaking of New Zealand, their 1982 World Cup squad contained three lads who were born in Scotland (plus another seven who were born in England and one born in Norn Iron).
I thought Alan McLaren was a great central defender who was never quite as rated as he should have been because his game was more cerebral and technical. To be a loved central defender in the Scottish media you had to have an all-action, braveheart approach and be prepared to stick your head in places you really shouldn't have - I'm looking at you Colin Hendry.
I never rated Stephen Wright much at all. He was the poor man's Stewart McKimmie, just as McKimmie was the poor man's Stewart Kennedy. I saw a lot of Gerry Creaney at Celtic in his early days and he looked a decent all rounder. Hard to know why he never really took that step forward (along with most of those players, admittedly)
Paul Dickov being in the news recently reminded me of the U16 World Cup that Scotland hosted in 1989. A reasonable number of that squad had respectable careers (Dickov, Brian O'Neill, Neil Murray, Gary Bollan). Scotland defeated Portugal in the semi-final and admittedly their squad's emergent players look a bit more impressive (Abel Xavier, Peixe, Figo, Capucho).
McLaren was indeed terrific, and it was a crying shame his career was effectively over by the age of 28.
That USA 94 qualifying campaign saw the best and worst examples of Scottish defending I've seen in my life: McLaren marking an at-his-peak Roberto Baggio out of the game in the goalless draw at Ibrox, followed a few months later by a McLarenless defence's abject surrender in Lisbon.
In fairness, that's not the whole story. Baggio later described it as the worst physical battering he ever got in a football match. He didn't mention McLaren by name though.
I remember World Soccer ran the piece at the time. He said something like "I have never been kicked so badly in my life".
It's a curious claim considering where Baggio played his entire career. Mark Hughes is always remembered as an attacking player who, shall we say, took the physical game to the defenders, but I remember him writing how the only time he was ever scared on a football pitch was in a Wales friendly in Italy in the late 80s. Bergomi and Ferri kicked him black and blue and laughed at his futile attempts to give some back.
Remember at some stage in Serie A Roberto Baggio would have played opposite Paolo Montero too.
The central defensive partnership McLaren had with Richard Gough was the best I ever saw at Rangers along with the Gough-Butcher one in 1987 that had Graham Roberts at right back.
Scottish football in those days had plenty of tough guys, some of whom could play a bit too (Richard Gough, Alex McLeish), and plenty of whom couldn't (Roy Aitken, John Brown, John Hughes, Peter Grant, Dave Bowman, Brian Irvine).
But the Scotland defenders that night in 1992 were McLaren, Dave McPherson, Maurice Malpas, Tom Boyd and Derek Whyte, and the midfield consisted of Paul McStay, Gary McAllister and Ian Durrant. Not exactly a human threshing machine, is it?
That doesn't mean Baggio didn't get the shit kicked out of him, though.
We all have a tendency to think our own lads would never do such a thing -- Ireland hacked and elbowed Spain all around Lansdowne Road in April 1989, and today it's seen as one of Big Jack's greatest days, with the Spanish players cast in the roles of greaseball cowards.
We've been talking about talented Scottish players who didn't have the career their talents suggested they should. The mention of Dave McPherson gives you the other perspective - guys who really didn't have much to their game and yet enjoyed pretty successful careers.
I could never understand why having managed to offload him once, Rangers brought him back for a second spell. I never shook off the mental image of McPherson as a baby giraffe taking its first faltering steps. A baby giraffe with zookeepers who had put a big, silly wig on its head for a laugh.
Brian Irvine was a coarse big bastard in defence too wasn't he. Roy Aitken was the worst of the lot for me. He's a graduate of the Alan Smith School Of Creative Repositioning.
Alex Ferguson tried to make everyone believe that inside the non-scoring, non-threatening striker there was a talented central midfield enforcer waiting to get out. So with Aitken who started out a slow, clumsy, petulant and witless central defender, only to be miraculously transformed by the wave of a magic wand into a slow, clumsy, petulant and witless central midfielder. I mean Peter Grant was rubbish too, but he at least knew he was rubbish. Aitken thought he could play and he somehow duped various Scottish managers into believing the same thing on more than 50 occasions.
There was a story about a lower league team visiting Parkhead in the cup (Stranraer, I think). Their manager's pre-match team talk consisted of repeatedly insisting that they make sure they closed down whoever was on the ball at all times 'except for Roy Aitken'.
When asked what to do when he was on the ball, the players were told 'let him do whatever the fuck he likes'.
Result: A good performance, but they lost 1-0.
I went to that McLaren v Baggio game, it was also famous for Gordon "Juke Box" Durie ripping the arse out of Maldini.
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