CRAIG BROWN guided his country to a World Cup and a European Championship during his time as Scotland manager.

But following his last tournament in France 1998, the Scots have failed to qualify for a major tournament since. 

It’s been a long and painful 22 years for the Tartan Army and with the coronavirus crisis crushing any dreams of a spot at the Euros, for the time being, the agony is worse than ever.

Brown's feelings are no different and he admits he was devastated by the recent postponement of the Euro play-off clash with Israel, as he believed, with certainty, that this was Scotland’s time.

Speaking to the Herald and Times, the 79-year-old said: “I was absolutely sure this was the time we were going to qualify.

“If ever I was optimistic about a victory it was against Israel. I was so sure we were going to do it.

“I saw Scotland playing Israel twice recently and having looked at them and our revamped team I thought we were a certainty to win that semi-final.

“The bigger worry was the final against Serbia or Norway. Serbia are a really good side and Norway too are a capable team. An away game against either of them was a major assignment. But I thought it was a certainty, I was quite sure of it. 

“The postponement might work in our favour though. It gives us a bit more time for injuries to recover. The likes of big Scott McKenna, John McGinn, John Souttar and Kieran Tierney could all be back.

“In an almost inverted way the lapse in time could become beneficial for Steve Clarke and Scotland.”

With the possibility of Arsenal full-back Tierney coming back into the fray, the dilemma of who to play in Scotland’s defence will once again be at the forefront of Steve Clarke’s mind.

The former Celtic defender has been utilised at centre back, with captain Andy Robertson appearing to be the number one choice for the left-back berth.

But Brown believes both players should be versatile enough to play either side of the back line, with history proving that some of the best full-backs are opposite footed to their preferred side. 

He continued: “I think we can definitely utilise both Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney at the back. If you are playing four at the back I genuinely don’t see why you can’t put a left footed player at right back.

“Over the years Scotland’s best left backs have been right footed. Guys like Tommy Gemmell, I go further back Eric Caldow and more recently Maurice Malpas.

“All these guys were left backs, but were right footed. So surely a left footed player can play at right back. You have an abundance of talent there so we need to make use of it.”

Another man who may well shoulder his way back into the Scotland squad when the time comes around is Leigh Griffiths. The striker already goes down in Scottish folklore for his stunning free-kicks against England in 2017, but after a period away from the pitch, he’s been absent from international squads in recent times.

Brown insists he is the number one option Scotland have at the top end of the pitch. He added: “It was good to see Leigh Griffiths hitting a bit of form before football was halted. He is a scorer and an instinctive one touch finisher.

“He’s Scotland’s best option going forward, he’s far better than some of the options being used from down south. He’s a natural finisher more than anybody else we’ve got.

“It is easy to pick someone else’s team though. I’m the guy who didn’t take Ally McCoist to the World Cup, so what do I know? He gives me pelters for that and I deserve it!”