DINO ZOFF won the World Cup with Italy at the age of 40, a feat that Craig Gordon would no doubt love to repeat.

The Scotland goalkeeper is realistic enough to know though that just playing in next year’s tournament in Qatar would be a huge achievement given he would be the same age as Zoff was in Spain back in 1982.

For Gordon - who of course missed a significant chunk of his own career through injury - age is simply a number, and he has shown that himself by reclaiming the Scotland number one spot from David Marshall, and holding off the challenge of relative young bucks Jon McLaughlin and Liam Kelly to be handed the gloves tonight against Israel at Hampden.

A win would give Gordon and his teammates a huge chance of claiming a play-off place, and would allow the Hearts keeper to keep his dream alive of following in Zoff’s footsteps all the way to the World Cup as he ticks into his fifth decade.

“It has been done before and can be done again,” Gordon said.

“I just need to concentrate on my training and make sure I am doing as much as I can off the pitch to put myself in the best possible shape to keep playing. That is what I will continue to do. At some point it will catch up on me but hopefully not quite yet.

“I’ll be 39 in a couple of months and nearly 40 by the time the World Cup comes around. I would love to be one of the oldest players in that tournament, having been one of the oldest in any squad – top three, I think – at the Euros.

“That’s fine by me. I don’t mind. I’ll take that, as long as we can be involved.”

Tonight’s match will also see Gordon move on to 61 caps, equal with the likes of Ally McCoist and Richard Gough.

“I wasn’t aware of that – but it’s not a bad place to be, alongside those guys,” he said.

“It’s great to be at the age I am, still managing to play for Scotland. I hope I can do it for a few more years yet.

“But I’m fully focused just on this game, getting the result. It’s about everybody coming together, not individual records.

“So for me, it’s great to be right up there with players like that. But it would mean so much more to me if we could qualify for a World Cup.”

The build-up to tonight’s match at a sold-out Hampden has rather reminded Gordon of the dramatic must-win qualifier for Euro 2008 against Italy.

The advanced stage of his career is rather highlighted by the fact that of the players who were named in the starting line-up and on the bench that night back in 2007, it is only himself and Scott Brown who have yet to retire.

But just as the old dog has life in him yet, he is hoping that Scotland’s qualification hopes do too come the end of the 90 minutes this evening.

“This game does have a special feeling about it,” he said. “It’s a massive match.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position and, against familiar opponents, we know it’s going to be very difficult.

“We were close that year, the final game of that campaign. Going into that, we still had the opportunity to qualify. This is similar, even though we’ve got a few games still to go. It does feel like a pivotal moment in the group, so we have to focus on getting the result.

“That Italy game did feel like a missed opportunity. Given the quality of opponents we had in that group, we probably didn’t expect to get as far as we did. But we got some great results. Unfortunately we also chucked in a few disappointing ones.

“It lead to that must-win game against Italy right at the very end. There was definitely a disappointment from that group that still remains, because we could have done something very special with that group of players. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that.”

It hasn’t all been heartbreak at a packed Hampden for Gordon when playing for Scotland though.

“If I remember the France game [a 1-0 win in October 2006], especially,” he said. “When the place is full and they’re right behind us, it feels like a special place to play football.

“We’ve not had that opportunity on that many occasions, a big game, a full house, so we really want to go for it. I’m sure the fans will help us go on and get a good result.

“My favourite Hampden games were probably France and Ukraine, the two biggest results we got. There would be many more if I sat and thought about it for longer. But those two, in that group where we got so many results, stand out. We beat France twice, beat Ukraine at home as well.

“I remember James McFadden scored a great goal against Ukraine, Lee McCulloch got one from a set-piece that was something we worked on, it all came together.

“It was a great atmosphere that day, a huge result that put is in a great position.

“We didn’t take that opportunity. But we have that chance again, all these years later – at the business end of a group and in with a great chance.”