24 Aug Brown backs Celtic
Former Scotland manager Craig Brown believes Celtic’s Champions League qualification could be the perfect impetus for Scotland’s World Cup bid.
Celtic sealed their place in Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in three years as a 5-4 aggregate win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva ensured the likes of Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths and Kieran Tierney get their first taste of the group stages.
Scotland players had to watch from afar as all of their neighbours reached the Euro 2016 knockout stages and Brown feels the fresh Champions League experience can translate to the national team.
Brown told Press Association Sport: “I’m delighted Celtic qualified. That could be the catalyst for the national team because these guys that play for Celtic and Scotland will get a boost from that.
“There’s a big difference between the SPFL and international football and if you’re bridging that by playing in Europe it’s a great boost to your players, especially when it’s the Champions League.
“Young players like Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths will get great confidence and experience from playing in the competition. Leigh Griffiths will get good experience playing against the best defenders in club football.”
The Aberdeen director’s own team have secured several impressive Europa League results in recent seasons but have still not managed to reach the group stages.
And the only members of the 27-man squad Gordon Strachan named for Scotland’s opening qualifier against Malta on September 4 who will be involved in Europe for the remainder of the season are the aforementioned Celtic players plus their team-mate, James Forrest.
It is a far cry from Brown’s days in charge, which saw Scotland qualify for Euro ’96 and the 1998 World Cup.
“With my Scottish teams, when we had Celtic and Rangers players, they were doing well in Europe,” said Brown, who was promoting the announcement of Exsel Group as the official mobile partner of the Scottish Football Association.
“Some of my team got to the UEFA Cup final with Celtic in Seville. Rangers were a top European team at the time.
“I had three players from the Blackburn Rovers team that won the championship in England, Colin Hendry, Billy McKinlay and Kevin Gallacher.
“Unfortunately Gordon is picking from teams that are not in Europe, Watford, Norwich, Derby County. I was getting guys from Liverpool like Gary McAllister; Manchester United, who had Jim Leighton, Brian McClair and Gordon Strachan.
“If you picked a Dundee United player, he had played at the top level in Europe. Paul Lambert won the Champions League with Dortmund and I had Paul in my team. Gordon has a different pool to pick from.”