Scotland began 1982 preparing for their third World Cup Finals in a row. Manager Jock Stein had taken over in 1978 and had succeeded in steering the Scots through a tough qualification group. They had finished top of Group 6 two points ahead of Northern Ireland with Sweden, Portugal and Israel also in the group. They had kept five clean sheets but had only scored nine goals in their eight qualifiers. Alan Rough 1981 Scottish footballer of the year had only conceded four goals in the seven games and his displays away to Israel and in Belfast were one of the main reasons Scotland were travelling to Spain for the 1982 World Cup. Scotland were drawn in probably the toughest group against Brazil, USSR and New Zealand.
Jock Stein had five games to prepare for the World Cup and select his squad. The defence appeared settled but Jock was still not sure of his best central defenders, who would play alongside Graeme Souness in midfield and who would partner Kenny Dalglish upfront? In February 1982 Scotland faced Spain in a friendly in Valencia. It was a chastening experience as they lost 3-0. In March Holland came to Hampden for another friendly. In front of nearly 72,000 fans Scotland put on an excellent display to win 2-1 thanks to a penalty by Frank Gray and a superb Kenny Dalglish chip. The British Championship campaign began with a 1-1 draw away to Northern Ireland with a John Wark goal. In May Asa Hartford’s goal was enough to beat Wales 1-0 at Hampden and Scotland knew that a win against the Auld Enemy would give Jock Stein his first British Championship. It was the 100th clash between the two countries and 80,000 fans turned up at Hampden full of expectation. Would Jock Stein’s men repeat their 1-0 victory at Wembley in 1981? Scotland lined up in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation with David Narey, Allan Evans and Alan Hansen at centre back. England started well and took the lead after Paul Mariner headed in a corner on 14 minutes. Scotland went close when Shilton scrambled away a Phil Thompson sliced clearance preventing an own goal and he also saved a Souness free kick. England lead 1-0 at the break. Scotland reverted back to a 4-4-2 in the second half with David Narey moving into midfield and John Robertson replacing Harford. The crowd chanted for Gordon Strachan but he never got off the bench and in fact played no part in any of the Home Championship games, a baffling decision by Jock Stein. Despite having more possession Scotland could not break down the England defence as Terry Butcher and Phil Thompson dominated and England held on for a 1-0 victory.
After the game Jock Stein named his squad for the World Cup. There was no place for Ray Stewart, Gordon McQueen, Archie Gemmill or Tommy Burns. Jim Leighton uncapped was named instead of Billy Thomson and George Wood would deputise for Alan Rough. The full 22 were as follows:
Goalkeepers: Rough, Wood, Leighton
Defenders: McGrain, Narey, F.Gray, Evans, McLeish, Hansen, Miller, Burley
Midfielders: Hartford, Souness, Wark, Strachan, Robertson, Provan
Forwards: Jordan, Brazil, Dalglish, Archibald, Sturrock
It was a very talented and experienced squad. Nine players F.Gray, Evans, Hansen, Burley, Souness, Wark, Robertson, Brazil and Daglish had all won European trophies and there was a good mixture of youth and experience.
Scotland travelled to the Algarve in Portugal for their pre tournament training camp. However Jock Stein had still not settled on his first choice central defence. Willie Miller Alan Hansen, Alex McLeish, Allan Evans and David Narey had all played together in various combinations but Jock had not selected Aberdeen teammates Miller and McLeish together in any of the warm up games. It was another baffling decision, especially given their outstanding display together in the 1-0 victory at Wembley in 1981.
On the 15th June 1982 Scotland began their campaign against rank outsiders New Zealand in Malaga. The Kiwis were part timers with several native Scots in their ranks. Hansen and Evans started, Alan Brazil and Kenny Dalglish were up front. With Gordon Strachan making a notable return to midfield Scotland made a bright start. Kenny Dalglish fired home the opener after Strachan’s fine run and John Wark added two more goals, a follow up after Brazil’s shot was saved and a superb header from a Strachan cross. Scotland were 3-0 up at half time and cruising.
John Wark celebrates putting Scotland 3-0 up against New Zealand in Malaga
Early in the second half Steve Archibald replaced Alan Brazil and then just one minute later New Zealand pulled a goal back. A terrible short back pass by captain Danny McGrain to Alan Rough was bundled in by Steve Sumner. Scotland lost their shape and began to tire in the heat. Then on 65 minutes a huge hole appeared in the Scotland defence and Steve Woodin ran through and fired past Alan Rough from 20 yards, as Alan Hansen and Allan Evans were caught badly out of position. At 3-2 Scotland were in trouble. John Robertson curled home a clever freekick in 75th minute and Steve Archibald’s header from a corner five minutes later gave Scotland a 5-2 victory. It had been an excellent attacking display but there was a nagging feeling that those two goals would prove very costly. Jock Stein pointed out that Scotland had taken two points from their first game as was confident that they could take something from their next game against Brazil.
Brazil were favourites to win the World Cup with many saying it was their best team since the 1970 World Cup. They had come from behind to beat the Soviet Union 2-1 in their opening game thanks to two brilliant goals by Eder and Socrates. With Falcao and Zico also in their ranks few gave Scotland any chance in Seville. Jock Stein opted for a 4-5-1 formation with Dalglish dropped and Steve Archibald the lone striker. David Narey replaced Danny McGrain at right back with Graeme Souness captaining the side. Brazil started the game confidently knocking the ball around and probing the Scotland defence. Then on 18 minutes Scotland took the lead. John Wark headed down a Souness long ball and David Narey latched onto it and fired a brilliant shot high into the Brazil net.
1982 WC David Narey fires Scotland ahead against Brazil in Seville and celebrates below
How would Brazil react? They continued to push Scotland back and in the 33rd minute then they won a freekick on the edge of the box after a needless foul by Alan Hansen. Zico curled a brilliant freekick into the top corner as Alan Rough stood and watched. Despite more Brazil pressure Scotland held on and the game was 1-1 at the interval. At the start of the second half Oscar was unmarked and headed home from a corner. Scotland were 2-1 down and now had to chase the game. They stayed in the game for one hour but then they visibly began to tire as Brazil taught them a lesson for the last half an hour. Eder brilliantly chipped Alan Rough on 65 minutes and Jock Stein threw on Kenny Dalglish to try and save the game. Falcao added a fourth with a drive from the edge of the box as Brazil recorded a 4-1 victory. Scotland were well beaten and now they knew they had to beat a very strong USSR team in their last game to qualify for the second round.
Scotland line up to face the Soviet Union in Malaga
On the 22nd June 1982 Scotland faced the USSR in their final Group 6 fixture. Once again Jock Stein rang the changes. Kenny Dalglish was dropped and not even on the bench, another baffling decision as his skill would have been key in breaking down a strong Soviet defence. Joe Jordan was brought in for his first start alongside Archibald, as Stein felt his power and strength in the air would unsettle the USSR defence. The Soviets only needed a draw to go through to the next round after their 3-0 win over New Zealand. Scotland started strongly with Souness dominant in midfield and Robertson and Strachan probing down the flanks. In the 14th minute Scotland took the lead. Joe Jordan latched onto Archibald’s pass and ran through to stroke the ball home. It was his fourth goal in the World Cup and he became the first and only Scot to score in three World Cups.
1982 World Cup Joe Jordan scores against the Soviet Union in Malaga
Scotland continued to push forward for another goal before half time. They were denied by two brilliant saves from Wark and Jordan by Rinat Dasayev, who was later voted the best goalkeeper in the World Cup. At half time Scotland were good value for their 1-0 lead. Jock Stein’s men were just 45 minutes away from the next round and sat back at the start of the second half. The Soviets had not troubled the Scotland defence but drew level in the 59th minute. Alexander Chivadze shot bounced over Alan Rough after his initial shot was blocked. Scotland had to score another goal and Alan Brazil replaced Jordan in the 74th minute. With just six minutes left Scotland pressed the self destruct button. Alan Hansen chasing an aimless long ball ran into Willie Miller and Soviet striker Shengelia ran clean through. Alan Rough failed to come out and he calmly slotted the ball home. It was a catastrophic mistake by Hansen who never seemed to play well for his country, compared to his form for Liverpool. Had Jock Stein picked Alex McLeish alongside Willie Miller that mistake would never have happened. Scotland now needed to score two goals but they fought back and captain Greame Souness levelled the scores with a fine shot from the edge of the box in the 86th minute.
1982 World Cup Graeme Souness scores against the USSR in Malaga
Scotland pushed forward desperately but could not find the third goal to send them through and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. It was the third World Cup in a row that Scotland had been eliminated on goal difference. Jock Stein had restored some pride after the 1978 World Cup and Scotland had performed well overall. They had scored eight goals in three games but had also conceded eight, thanks to some very poor defending. The Tartan Army had a great time in Spain and were praised by the locals for their passion and good humour. The 1982 World Cup was another missed opportunity for Scotland as Jock Stein failed to get the best out of a very talented squad. It summed up his record in charge of the national team, results were average considering the quality of players he had to choose from. In a memorable Summer Italy defeated the brilliant Brazilian team and won the 1982 World Cup by beating West Germany in the Final.