If someone had told Scotland fans in attendance at the 1998 World Cup that an empty Rajko Mitić Stadium in Belgrade 22 years later would be the scene of their next moment of meaningful international success they’d have probably laughed.

One, because an empty stadium in a pre-pandemic world would sound fanciful, and two, that a nation that gave birth to the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law would next set foot in a major international tournament over two decades later.

The road from Saint Etienne in the summer of 1998 to Hampden Park this June has been a long, torturous and largely unforgettable one for the Tartan Army. Occasionally threatening, mostly disappointing, Scotland’s tale of woe could turn on its head in a European Championships which includes two ‘home’ games in Glasgow – not to mention the mouth-watering clash with the Auld Enemy at Wembley.

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When David Marshall went down low to his left to save Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty in that now-iconic night in Belgrade – Scotland were leading 1-0 until the 90th minute, they never make it easy – he allowed a football-mad nation to dream again. That Hampden Park won’t be full this summer is a cruel twist on a story 23 years in the making, but those lucky enough to be in attendance in June will be singing for a nation starved of international recognition since the turn of the 21st century.

From Gretna to John o’ Groats, and across the Highlands and the Islands, Scotland has waited, and waited some more, for this opportunity. All the home nations have had memorable summers in recent years and now Steve Clarke’s Tartan Army feel it’s their turn.

But the years between France ’98 and this summer weren’t kind to Scotland. A play-off defeat to England in the Euro 2000 qualifiers despite a famous 1-0 win at Wembley; a 6-1 aggregate defeat to the Dutch in the Euro 2004 play-offs, again despite an incredible 1-0 first-leg victory at Hampden; and a last minute Luca Toni header ensured then-world champions Italy would be going to Euro 2008 instead of Alex McLeish’s men.

Even group stage qualifiers have proven to be miserable. A last minute Harry Kane equaliser at Hampden in 2017 prevented a memorable win for Scotland over England – a goal that cost Scotland two points and ultimately a play-off spot for the 2018 World Cup.

Amongst the near misses and glorious failures, a generation of Scots have grown up not knowing what it’s like to see their nation compete in a major tournament. One of those is UCFB graduate Sean Elderbrant. To say that Sean, a Digital Media Executive at the Scottish Professional Football League, is excited about his summer would be an understatement. He’s been waiting his whole life for this.

He said: “It goes without saying that qualification for EURO 2020 has been a very long time coming for Scotland. As fans, we have had to watch from afar on a biannual basis as international tournaments have passed us by. Not this time, though.”

Sean added: “Our invite to the dance has finally arrived and I cannot wait!”

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With two games to be played at Hampden, Scotland will be hoping a home crowd can take them through to the last 16. Sean is confident of his country’s chances.

He said: “The firepower of John McGinn, Lyndon Dykes and now, rather excitingly, Che Adams gives us a fighting chance going up against anyone and everyone. Will it happen? Only time will tell. I just hope that this summer is one to remember, and that it doesn’t take another 23 years for Scotland to get another invite to the dance.”