KENNY Dalglish had, with very good reason, few regrets when his international career came to an end.

That the Celtic and Liverpool great remains both the record cap holder and joint leading goal scorer for Scotland to this day underlines just how well he acquitted himself whenever he donned a dark blue jersey.

But the man who made 102 appearances for his country between 1971 and 1986 and netted on no fewer than 30 occasions – a haul that is only matched by that of his legendary compatriot Denis Law – still has a far from impressive track record at tournament finals.

Sir Kenny was unable to help the national team progress beyond the group stages at three consecutive World Cups.

He certainly came close.  In West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978 and then Spain in 1982, the Scotland sides he was a key component missed out on a place in the knockout rounds on goal difference. But going further always eluded the forward and his team mates.

“To qualify as often as we did was fantastic,” said Sir Kenny. “We qualified for five consecutive World Cups between 1974 and 1990. That was a fantastic achievement, but once we got there, we should have done a lot better than we actually did.

“I don’t think we survived the two weeks too well. We didn’t like being away, locked up, trying to prepare for the World Cups. But we didn’t half make some great inroads into the qualification.”

Steve Clarke, who will today fly out for Spain with his 26 man squad to begin preparations for the Euro 2020 finals next month, has targeted a place in the last 16 and it is, despite the quality of teams in Group D, a realistic ambition.

If Scotland finish first or second in a section that includes Croatia, the Czech Republic and England then they will go through automatically. If they are one of the four best third placed teams they will also remain involved.

So how can Andy Robertson and his team mates succeed where Sir Kenny and his fell short? The 70-year-old reckons the opening match against the Czech Republic at Hampden on June 14 will be crucial to their chances.

“The whole nation enjoyed sealing the qualification,” he said. “It all looks pretty promising, but we’ve got a really, really difficult section. But we’re there and we’ve got two games at Hampden (the Czech Republic and Croatia games). As long as we can compete, I’m sure we’ll get satisfaction.

“It’s a great opportunity until you mention who we’ve got to play. Croatia beat England in the semi-final at the last World Cup and then you’ve got England who aren’t too shabby either. If you can get past those then you’ve got a chance.

“But if we can get a result in the first game, then we’ll be up and running. We’ve got two games at home and one against England, I’m sure Stevie will have a go. It’s the best chance we’ve got because it’s the next one, not because of the quality of the teams we’re playing.”

He added: “It’s a difficult game to play first. It’s always better if you’ve seen them play somebody else. In the 1974 World Cup we won the Zaire game 2-0. It was a struggle and a tough game for us.

“When you come up against what people would assume as the weaker team in the group, and you get them first, they’re full of enthusiasm and fitness and they want to do well.”

Sir Kenny scored what proved to be the winning goal against England at Wembley in front of a crowd of 98,103 – the majority of whom were, despite it being an away game for them, members of the Tartan Army - in 1977 and rates that sweet 2-1 victory among his career highlights.

He knows the current Scotland players will enjoy the experience of squaring up to the auld enemy at the world-famous stadium in their second Group D match and thinks having 2,700 supporters there to cheer them on will increase their chances of recording a famous win. 

He also suspects that Gareth Southgate’s charges, who reached the Russia 2018 semi-finals before being knocked out by Croatia after extra-time, may be overly confident of victory over Clarke’s men.

“Any amount of Scottish fans down there, even if it’s only a 1,000, they’ll make themselves heard,” he said. “We had a couple of thousand in at a few Liverpool games this season and it doesn’t half make a difference from there being nobody in the stadium.

“Scotland versus England is a special game. People will be running over themselves trying to get tickets for it. I’m sure if they have a chance of getting in, they’ll be down there and they’ll be supportive.

“It’s always special, a special occasion playing against them. Equally, as you get great satisfaction out of winning against them, you get more dejected when you get beat by them. I remember going to Wembley and getting beat 5-1. That wasn’t too pleasant that evening coming home.

“But I can remember beating them at Wembley and I can remember beating them at Hampden. They were very enjoyable occasions. If we can get a result against them, then it will be very positive, but we’ll still have two games left which might dictate the future.

“Yeah, you really enjoy it, without a shadow a doubt, but you can’t compare it with your club. It’s two different things. Your results for your club are totally different from your results for the national team, but all equally as important.

“What do you think they’ll be saying about Scotland? They’ll be going ‘Och, we’re alright, this will be a doddle, we’ll beat them.’ I’ve not seen or heard an England player say ‘That’s a hard game for us’.

“I don’t think they’ll underestimate us, but they’ll still be confident of beating us. Just let’s hope that the confidence turns into complacency and gives us a better chance. I think everybody is focussed on the England game, but we shouldn’t undermine the other two either. They’ll be tough games.”