DAVID Marshall has enjoyed many memorable moments in a professional career which has now spanned three decades.

He lifted every trophy in the Scottish game during his time with Celtic. He then moved down to England and helped Cardiff City clinch promotion to the Premier League. He has, too, represented the national team on no fewer than 39 occasions.

But nothing Marshall has achieved in the game has ever come close to topping his experiences against Barcelona in the UEFA Cup way back in 2004.

He came on for Rab Douglas, who had been sent off following a brawl in the tunnel, at half-time in the first leg of the last 16 double header and saved a penalty from Ronaldinho to ensure Martin O’Neill’s side recorded a famous 1-0 triumph.

The 19-year-old then produced an exceptional individual display in a rematch in the Nou Camp which the Parkhead club drew 0-0 to book their place in the quarter-finals.

Yet, the Scotland goalkeeper believes beating Serbia in the Euro 2020 play-off final in Belgrade tomorrow evening would finally, more than 16 years on, eclipse those nights.

“I think it would of course,” he said. “It would be such a big thing for the country to get to a major finals for the first time in so long.

“Those Barcelona games were huge, obviously. Up in Scotland I don’t have a lot of what you would call ‘career moments’. Virtually all of my stuff has been done down south. But everybody remembers them.

“But to go and qualify for a tournament, with the length of time we’ve not been at one, would have to be the highlight of my career.”

Helping Scotland, who haven’t featured in the finals of either the European Championships or World Cup since France ’98, defeat Serbia and secure a place at Euro 2020 would be a joyous moment for every player involved.

But for Marshall it would be particularly sweet. His appearance against Israel in the semi-final last month came over 16 years and two months after his debut against Hungary. No other individual, not even record cap holder Sir Kenny Dalglish or the legendary Jim Leighton, has ever spent as long involved in the national side.

There have been numerous disappointments and setbacks during that time. Indeed, when Steve Clarke recalled him last year he had spent two-and-a-half years out of the picture. He is glad that he persevered.

“I don’t know who keeps an eye on these kinds of record,” he said. “Someone mentioned it to me last month. It’s a strange one. It’s not one I’ve heard before, but it’s still a nice one to have. It shows the longevity, all the players and managers who have come and gone since my first squad.

“I had a long time as No1 under Gordon Strachan. I never played for a while after that. That was probably the most difficult time. I thought there was no need to change. But in international football if you’re not playing at club level then that makes it difficult for international manager to pick for you.

“But the retirement thing has never really crossed my mind. I always thought I could get back to playing for Scotland again. Possibly I am getting a reward.”

Now 35, Marshall has worked alongside many outstanding footballers, Scott Brown, Barry Ferguson, Darren Fletcher, Shaun Maloney and James McFadden among them, who didn’t experience playing in a major tournament. He appreciates, then, what a privileged position he and his team mates are currently in.

“There have been so many good squads with top players that have not got to a finals,” he said. “Look at Fletch, Broonie, Barry. People like Faddy and Maloney did not get the chance to get to tournaments.

“The time we have been away from it means it will be such a big thing in anyone’s career – but certainly mine – to get there. It would mean the world to me. Everyone in the squad would say the exact same thing.”

The presence of Craig Gordon and Allan McGregor has limited Marshall’s opportunities over the years. He fully expected the former to be handed a recall for the matches against Serbia, Slovakia and Israel given his fine displays for Hearts this season. But he welcomes his involvement once again.

“Craig obviously played internationally for a long, long time,” he said. “Then injuries set him back at Sunderland. By that time Allan had come through at Rangers. It is just timing.

“There were times when Craig got injured and I probably would have got the chance, but, at the time, I wasn’t playing and Allan took his chance. They are two top goalkeepers, the longevity of their careers speaks for itself and shows their quality.

“It has been tough, but the three of us push each other in different ways and we’ve all had a lot of caps over the years. Now Craig turns up again! It does not surprise me. He’s done really well. The experience he has is massive coming into these three games.

“It’s great to get the big man back. We love each other really! And hopefully it is good memories we can share.”

Gordon will do well to displace Marshall. The Derby County goalkeeper has been one of the Scotland’s outstanding performers during their eight game undefeated run. He is grateful to Clarke for recalling him and hopeful he can repay him with a display against Serbia that ends the country’s agonising barren run.

“The manager’s been great,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with Steve Clarke and his staff. As soon as he called I was delighted to get back. For me personally it has gone really well under the manager.

“The last few months have been especially great because of results. That obviously lifts it, everyone feels positive. Hopefully that can continue and we can eventually get to the Euros.

“It will be such a good feeling if we can do it on Thursday. It will be that feel good factor for the nation. But we are under no illusions how tough it will be on Thursday. We are positive going into it, but we need to get it done.”